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Evicting a troublesome tenant in Florida

If you own rental property, you will likely eventually struggle with tenant issues. In Florida, landlords can evict tenants who fail to pay rent or otherwise break the terms of the lease.

Follow these steps to complete a legal eviction of your nonpaying tenant in Florida.

Provide a three-day notice

Once rent becomes late, notify the tenant that he or she has three days to either pay the agreed-upon rent or vacate the rental property. This notice period does not include holidays or weekends.

You must use specific language from the Florida landlord-tenant statutes, including the date rent was due, the date the three-day notice will expire, a statement of the options (pay or vacate), the date you served notice and a statement indicating that you intend to pursue legal action if he or she does not leave or pay rent by the deadline. You should give this notice form to the tenant personally, tape it to the front door of the unit it and/or send it by certified mail.

File a complaint

If the tenant moves out within three days, you can use the security deposit to cover unpaid rent and damages to the unit. If he or she neither pays nor moves out, file a summons and complaint in county court. You can hire a county sheriff or private process server to serve your tenant with a copy of the complaint.

He or she has five days to respond, after which you can seek a default judgment for unpaid rent. Attend the scheduled hearing and present evidence, including a copy of the signed lease agreement, so the judge can make a determination. If you win the case, the court will order the sheriff to evict the tenant within 24 hours.

Avoid counteraction from your tenant by following the legal process for eviction. You may not change the locks, shut off the utilities, remove his or her belongings or otherwise take action without filing the proper paperwork in court.