Eviction and foreclosure are topics that we’ve been talking about a lot lately with the financial crisis being faced by so many during this time of COVID. There is no doubt that facing this type of crisis is overwhelming, but it can be less overwhelming if you gave some idea of what you are facing. As they say – better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Eviction: 6 Things You Should Know About Eviction in Florida

1. There Are Four Steps of the Eviction Process

In the state of Florida, there are four main “sections” to the eviction process. All of these “Sections” must be followed to the ‘T’ in order for the eviction to be considered legal. These four steps of eviction include:

  1. The serving of the eviction notice – depending on the reason for eviction, the landlord must serve a notice requiring that the tenant vacate the property within between 72 hours to 7 days. The length of time a tenant has to leave the property depends on the reason behind the eviction. You can find more information about the length of time a tenant has to vacate a property in our last post: Florida Foreclosure Appeals: 8 Things That You Should Know.
  2. Filing a Complaint and Summons – if the tenant does not pay what is owed or they do not vacate the property within the given time, the landlord can then file a complaint with the court and the tenant must appear in court if they have any intention of fighting the foreclosure.
  3. Going to court – going to court gives each party the chance to make their case in front of a judge by presenting supporting evidence. The judge will then determine whether the landlord has the legal grounds to be granted a writ of possession allowing them to take back possession of the property.
  4. Writ of possession issued – once the landlord has been granted the final judgment for possession of the property, a writ of possession is issued and delivered to the tenant of the property by the Sheriff. This gives the tenant a specified time period to leave the property. If the tenant has not vacated the property within this given date, the sheriff may then physically remove them from the property.

2. Your Security Deposit

Once you move out of a property, within 15 days of the termination of your rental agreement, the landlord must return your deposit for the property UNLESS they intend to impose a claim on the property. If the landlord intends on imposing a claim, they must justify why they are keeping some or all of the deposit in writing, sent via certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address within 30 days of the termination of the rental agreement.

3. Default Judgment

A default judgment – meaning that a landlord is entitled to judgment in their favor and a writ of possession for the property – may be made in a couple of circumstances, including:

  • If the tenant does not file an answer to the complaint or deposit rent money due to the registry of the court.
  • If the tenant files an answer to the complaint that is not legally sufficient but does not pay the rent money due. If the answer is legally sufficient, a hearing will follow.

In the case of a default judgment, the ruling applies only to the possession of the property, it doesn’t demand payment of or confirm any damages being sought by the landlord.

4. The “Do Not Rent List”

There is such a thing as the “Florida Do Not Rent List”. This is a list/directory where landlords can record the names, last known address, court case number, and amount of money owed by tenants that they have had to evict from a property. This list is shared among landlords and property owners and having your name on this list can make it exceptionally difficult to rent a property in the future.

5. It Is Always in Your Favor to Take Action

When faced with eviction, it’s common to want to hide from the problem, particularly if you are in a position where there is nothing you can do to change your current situation. While it may seem pointless to contact your landlord or respond to their communications with you, it isn’t. Now, if you are in a position where you can make smaller payments, talk to your landlord and see if you can work out a payment arrangement to get you back on track. If you are unable to make payments, consider talking to an attorney (by taking advantage of consultations) to find out what options are available to you.

The worst thing you can do in this situation is nothing at all. At least by contacting your landlord, you are letting them know that you aren’t hiding from them or running, that you understand that there is a problem, and you show good faith that you are trying to resolve the issue. This can go a long way in remaining on good terms with your landlord and, in some instances,  avoiding court altogether.

6. You May Be Protected Against Eviction Due to COVID

As we have discussed previously, there are some protections in place for renters who have fallen behind on their rent and are facing eviction as a result of COVID. For example, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended the eviction moratorium until the end of December to protect renters in homes with mortgages backed by these lenders. Even if you do not fall into this category, there are other assistance programs available that may be able to help you to stay in your home until you can get back on your feet. The best way to find out about these programs is to speak with an attorney who specializes in foreclosure and eviction or to consult your local housing authority for local referrals and assistance.

Are You Facing Eviction In Or Around St Pete, Florida?

If you are facing eviction in or around St Pete, Florida, and are in need of reputable and experienced legal representation, Weidner Law can help! Just give us a call today at 727-954-8752 and let’s fight this together!

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