Unlawful Detainer vs Eviction in Florida
Which one is it? Our office hears this question all too often. Do you have an invited guest staying in your home, but they are refusing to leave? Is this guest a family member or an ex boyfriend or girlfriend? A Squatter? What are your options and would the process of having them removed from your home be considered an Unlawful Detainer action or an Eviction in Florida?
Florida Unlawful Detainer
Florida Statutes, Chapter 82 details what an unlawful detainer action is and the remedies for an unlawful detainer. More specifically, an unlawful detainer action is used when an invited guest or squatter, in essence this means that no landlord/tenant relationship exists, and there is a refusal by them to vacate the property. To prove an unlawful detainer, the owner must show
- the occupant was invited into the home or illegally took possession of the premises with the homeowner’s consent (squatter);
- the occupant was not a tenant (did not pay any rents or contribute monies for bills and their was not a designated duration of stay in writing;
- the property owner had asked the occupant to leave the property; and
- the occupant refused to leave the home.
On the other hand, a Florida residential eviction, which is governed under Florida Statutes, Chapter 83 Part II, is utilized when there is a landlord-tenant relationship and the tenant refuses to leave the property after proper notice to vacate the property is provided or the lease expires and the the tenant holdovers without the landlord’s consent. A landlord/tenant relationship exists when there is either a written lease, verbal agreement, or an exchange of payment (rent) for use and enjoyment of the premises.
Florida Summary Procedure
The beauty of both Unlawful Detainer actions and Evictions in Florida is that they’re actions governed under 51.011, Summary procedure. This is an expedited procedure in Florida that is very beneficial to the homeowner or landlord. Essentially, it expedites the court proceeding. Instead of the traditional 20-days that a Plaintiff has to wait for the Defendant to file a response to the lawsuit, the time periods are reduced as follows:
- PLEADINGS.—Plaintiff’s initial pleading shall contain the matters required by the statute or rule prescribing this section or, if none is so required, shall state a cause of action. All defenses of law or fact shall be contained in defendant’s answer which shall be filed within 5 days after service of process. If the answer incorporates a counterclaim, plaintiff shall include all defenses of law or fact in his or her answer to the counterclaim and shall serve it within 5 days after service of the counterclaim. No other pleadings are permitted. All defensive motions, including motions to quash, shall be heard by the court prior to trial.
In sum, the procedures in the court system are almost identical when initiating an eviction or an unlawful detainer in Florida, except for unlawful detainer actions, no Notice is required as a prerequisite before filing the possession lawsuit. However, we always recommend (if possible) providing notice as its good practice and it looks good to the court. Additionally, matters pertaining to possession may be filed in county court. If you’re dealing with this type of headache, let the experienced West Palm Beach Eviction Attorneys and West Palm Beach Unlawful Detainer Lawyers @ Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp, PLLC assist. Call us today @ 561.699.0399 at our Lantana office @ 814 W. Lantana Rd. Suite 1, Lantana, Florida 33462 to see how we can help.