Consistent rent payments are necessary to be successful with your investment property. If your tenant stops paying rent, they violate the terms of your lease agreement, and you are legally permitted to evict them from the property. It’s important that you follow Florida’s legal eviction process, however. You cannot show up to the house and demand they leave. You cannot change the locks or shut off the utilities.
If you need to evict your tenant, follow these legal steps. It’s always a good idea to seek legal advice as well. While the eviction process in Florida is not complicated, the smallest mistake can set you back and cost you more time and money.
Serve Your Tenant a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit
Once rent is officially late and any grace periods have passed, you’ll need to serve your tenants with a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This is a legal notice that lets your tenants know they are required to either pay rent or move out of the property within three days. You can deliver this notice in person to the tenant or you can post it on their door. If you end up posting the notice, make sure you document the date and the manner in which it was served. You cannot move forward with an eviction until the Three Day Notice is delivered to and received by the tenant.
File an Eviction in Court
Usually, tenants will pay the overdue rent within the three days or contact you to try and set up some sort of payment arrangement. However, if you do not hear from your tenants and the rent still has not been paid, you’ll need to go to court to file for an eviction lawsuit. You must indicate how much rent is due, and you cannot include any additional fees for things like repairs or court costs. The summons that will be delivered to the tenant must only reflect the rental amount.
Once the tenants are served with the summons, they can either respond to the eviction and argue against it, or they can move out. If they respond, the court will set a date for a hearing. You’ll need to show up with all your documentation that proves they have not paid and they have violated the lease agreement. If they don’t respond to the eviction summons, you’ll be able to take the next step.
File for a Writ of Possession
Assuming your eviction case is strong, you will either win a default judgment because the tenants don’t show up or the judge will rule in your favor at court. Then, you’ll need a Writ of Possession. This allows the sheriff to go out to the property and ensure the tenant vacated the premises. If the tenants are still there, the sheriff will physically remove them. You should be ready to re-key the property immediately so you can take back possession and begin preparing it for the next tenants.
If you have any questions about evicting a tenant in Cape Coral, please contact us at Florida’s Finest Property Management. We’d be happy to tell you more.