An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a type of legal action that allows landlords in Florida to regain possession of their property from invited guest, relative, former significant other such as a ex-boy friend or ex-girl friend who have stayed past their welcome, despite being told by the property owner that it’s time for them to leave. This type of lawsuit is often initiated when a tenant remains living at the property or premises even after they’ve been asked to leave. Normally in unlawful detainer actions there was never a written Lease Agreement or other written instrument commemorating any agreement whereby the guest/tenant was given authority to move into the property.  Unlawful detainer lawsuits are common in Florida and are governed by Florida Statute § 82.

In Florida, an unlawful detainer lawsuit is also often incorrectly referred to as an eviction lawsuit, because many of the procedures are similar and both by law are supposed to be handled by the courts in expedited manner provided for by special summary administration rules.  The landlord must first provide the tenant with a very specific notice to vacate the property as provided for by Florida Statute.  [If you need help preparing one of these Notice, please contact our office at: (678) 596-4529, for help].  This notice must be in writing and specifically notify the tenant that the property owner is requesting that they leave/vacate the property.  If the tenant refuses or fails to vacate the property within the time frame specified in the notice, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit with the courts ultimately seeking a Final Judgment directing the Clerk of Courts to issue a Writ of Possession, forthwith.  The Landlord/Property Owner wants to always make sure, that your Final Judgment includes the language “forthwith” or the Clerk of Courts may delay issuing the Writ of Possession.

Once the Unlawful Detainer lawsuit has been filed, the court will set a date for a hearing. The hearing will allow the landlord and the tenant to present their case before a judge. The judge will then make a determination based on the evidence presented at the hearing.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be given a specific amount of time to vacate the property. If the tenant fails to vacate the property within the allotted time, the landlord can then request a Writ of Possession.  A Writ of Possession is a document issued by the Clerk of Courts and directs the Sheriff of the County to remove the tenant and their personal property from the premises.

It is VERY important to note that in Florida, a landlord cannot use self-help to remove a tenant from the property.  This means that the landlord cannot change the locks, turn off the utilities, or take any other actions to force the tenant to leave the property.  If the landlord engages in these types of actions, they may be subject to legal action and may be required to pay damages to the tenant.

Unlawful detainer lawsuits can be complex and can involve a significant amount of time and resources. Landlords who are considering filing an eviction lawsuit should consult with an experienced attorney who can guide them through the process and ensure that their legal rights are protected.  Additionally, tenants who are facing an unlawful detainer lawsuit should also seek legal advice to ensure that their rights are protected.

In conclusion, unlawful detainer lawsuits are a common legal action in Florida that allows landlords to regain possession of their property from invited guest who remain in the property after the property owner/landlord ask that they leave.  The process involves providing the tenant with a notice to vacate, filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court, and presenting evidence at a hearing.  If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be given a specific amount of time to vacate the property. Unlawful detainer lawsuits can be complex and should be handled by experienced attorneys to ensure that the legal rights of all parties are protected.   If you need help removing a person from your property whom has out stayed their welcome, please call our firm at: (678) 596-4529.