WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN EVICTION IS FILED?
Sadly, evictions do happen. When they do happen, what can you expect?
When you contact your Florida Real Estate Attorney and let them know you need them to file an eviction, your attorney will ask some questions and ask for some document copies such as the lease agreement and any other notices you have given the tenant that has gone unresolved which resulted in the eviction filing.
Once your attorney receives everything they need, they will file the eviction with the court. The court will prepare the paperwork and the tenant will be given a Notice of Eviction. This notice informs the tenant an eviction has been filed against them. The tenant is directed to respond to the court within 5 days of being served.
TENANT DOES RESPOND:
The judge will read the response and most often order a hearing. On the date of the hearing, in most cases, the judge will order mediation at that time. The judge would prefer differences be settled out of his/her court if at all possible.
Should mediation be ordered you, your attorney, the tenant, the tenant’s attorney, and a neutral 3rd party mediator will go into a private room to discuss the situation. The mediator is there to maintain order during a stressful period, but also help all parties reach a mutual agreement together without the judge making all final decisions (which could be good or bad for all involved).
If a mutual agreement is reached, the terms will be put in writing, signed by all parties, and filed with the court. If no agreement can be reached, everyone will go back in front of the judge. The judge could hear all arguments at that time or reschedule for a later date.
Once the judge has rendered his/her verdict, the verdict is final, and all parties are to abide by the ruling.
TENANT DOES NOT RESPOND:
A default judgment is then issued by the judge. Once the default judgment is granted, the information is sent to the sheriff’s office where a deputy will serve a 24 Hour Notice to Vacate.
Once the sheriff’s deputy posts the 24 hour notice, you will be notified when to meet the deputy to regain legal possession of property. When you are contacted, should the deputy tell you that the property appears to be vacant and asks if you would rather the Writ of Possession be mailed to you; insist on meeting the deputy at the property. Long story short; if the tenant vacates during the eviction and fails to return the keys or all tenants on the lease fails to sign that they are/have vacated, without the Writ of Possession the eviction would be as if it never happened.
There are only 3 ways to regain possession of a property in Florida:
1) Tenant turns in the keys
An example of this happening would be:
- You speak to the deputy
- You decide to have the Writ of Possession mailed to you
- You go to the property and have the locks changed.
- When you inspect the property, you find no personal belongings but only trash, and you have it removed.
-Two days later you get a call from one of the tenants that said they are at the property and their key isn’t working. You explain to them the 24 hour notice and the deputy, that you have legal possession, and there was only trash left in the property. The tenant then explains that they had an out of state emergency, they left town and knew nothing about the 24 hour notice. Now they can’t get in the house, all their stuff is missing, and the roommate they lived with has changed their phone number. The tenant then states they are going to an attorney.
You may not see a problem here because the house was vacant, and the deputy said the Writ of Possession would be mailed to you. The problem is that you don’t have the Writ of Possession. This form gives you legal possession of the property at the end of an eviction and without it, appearances are that you trespassed and illegally removed personal property that belonged to the tenant.
To make things worse, when damages are proven in a Landlord Tenant case, the tenant could be awarded up to three times the damages plus attorney fees.
In the end, it is better to be safe than sorry and meet the deputy for the Writ of Possession.
An eviction can take 30 – 45 days to complete. Your attorney will be by your side the entire way, so make sure you talk to him/her and follow their direction in order to make the eviction as painless as possible. This article is a general overview of the eviction process. I hope that between your attorney’s guidance and this overview, you understand the process a little better.