Free Florida Eviction Notice Templates
One of the most challenging aspects of being a landlord is figuring out what to do when your tenant violates the lease. Depending on the type of violation, you may want them out immediately - but are unsure of how to go about it legally. The process can be confusing, and getting it wrong may mean that a court denies your request to evict a problem tenant.
The first step in any eviction is filing an eviction notice. The type of notice that you will need to send is based on the type of lease violation. Once the tenant has received the notice, then you can move forward with an eviction lawsuit if they fail to fix the problem or vacate the property.
Based in Lithia, Eaton Realty offers property management services throughout the greater Tampa Bay region. We handle all aspects of property management, from finding a great tenant to dealing with problems as they arise to evictions. Give us a call to learn more about how our team of experienced property managers can help you with your investment properties.
What Is an Eviction Notice?
In Florida, a landlord can evict a tenant “for cause” or “without cause.” Depending on whether the landlord has cause or not, the landlord will need to provide the tenant with either an eviction notice or termination notice. An eviction notice is essentially a letter that informs a tenant that they have violated their lease and must either cure the violation or vacate the premises. By contrast, a termination notice informs a tenant that the landlord will not renew the lease at the end of the term.
Under Florida law, eviction notices must be mailed or delivered to the tenant. If the tenant is not present at the premises, then a copy of the notice can be left at the residence. The requirement to provide notice cannot be waived in a lease. Ideally, the notice should be sent via certified mail so that you have proof that the tenant received it if you need to file a lawsuit.
Broadly speaking, a termination “for cause” means that the landlord has a legal reason to evict the tenant. This may include anything from not paying rent to breaking a lease term or even being charged with a criminal offense. Before a landlord can evict a tenant, however, they must follow certain legal steps, which include delivering an eviction notice to the tenant. Self-help evictions - evicting a residential tenant outside of the strict procedures set out in Florida law - are illegal in Florida.
What Information Must an Eviction Notice Contain?
The contents of an eviction notice will vary based on the reason for the eviction. Florida distinguishes between situations where a tenant should not be given an opportunity to “cure” (fix the problem) and those where the tenant should be given a chance to resolve the issue.
If the tenant has committed a serious lease violation, then a landlord can send an unconditional quit notice. With this type of notice, the tenant does not get a chance to fix the lease violation. Instead, the notice informs the tenant that they must vacate the premises within 7 days or the landlord will proceed with an eviction lawsuit. Examples of situations where a landlord may send an unconditional quit notice include:
For example, if your tenant punches holes in the walls or doors or intentionally breaks a window, you could send an unconditional quit notice.
This type of notice is relatively brief. It should inform the tenant that their lease is being terminated, effective immediately, and that they have 7 days from the delivery of the letter to vacate the premises. The landlord should give the reason for the eviction notice (such as property destruction) and explain what will happen if the tenant fails to leave the residence.
Less serious lease violations can be handled with a 7-day notice to cure. This type of eviction notice gives the tenant 7 days to fix the lease violation or their lease will be terminated. Examples of issues that could lead to a 7-day notice to cure include:
Importantly, if the tenant repeats this type of lease violation within 12 months, then the landlord can send an unconditional quit notice.
A 7 day notice to cure should describe the violation and the provision of the lease at issue. It should also explain that the tenant has 7 days from receipt of the notice to cure the issue, or the lease will be terminated and they must vacate the premises. It should also explain that a repeat violation within 12 months will lead to an immediate lease termination (unconditional notice to quit).
If a tenant is 3 days late with rent - excluding weekends and legal holidays - then the landlord can send a 3 day eviction notice. With this type of notice, the landlord informs the tenant that if they do not get current with the rent within 3 days, their lease will be terminated.
A 3 day notice to pay rent or quit should notify the tenant of the amount of outstanding rent and list the leased premises. It should explain that the tenant must pay the rent within 3 days (naming the specific date) or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not pay rent or move by the deadline provided, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Finally, landlords should be aware of the rules surrounding termination notices. Choosing to not renew a tenant’s lease is different from an eviction - but still requires notice. The length of notice is based on the term of tenancy. For example, in a month-to-month lease, a landlord must give 15 days notice that the lease is not being renewed. If the tenant refuses to vacate the property at the end of the lease term, it may be necessary to pursue an eviction lawsuit.
What Does the Eviction Process Look Like?
Sending an eviction notice is often just the start of the eviction process. As noted above, it is against the law in Florida to evict a tenant on your own, such as by turning off the utilities or changing the locks. If you engage in self-help eviction, then your tenant could sue you for monetary damages.
In some cases, sending an eviction notice is enough and a tenant will move out of the unit without a fight. In other situations, you may be able to negotiate the tenant’s departure through a cash for keys offer. Unfortunately, there may be situations where the tenant decides to fight the eviction notice.
After sending an eviction notice and allowing for the proper amount of time (3 to 7 days), a landlord can move onto the next step: filing an eviction lawsuit. This may also be referred to as a right of action for possession.
If the rental agreement is terminated and the tenant does not vacate the premises, then an eviction lawsuit is the only way that a landlord can legally evict the tenant. To start the process, a landlord or their attorney must file a complaint for eviction, a summons, and a non-military affidavit at the county courthouse. This affidavit is required because different rules for eviction apply to servicemembers.
The complaint should include the landlord’s information, the location of the property, the tenant’s violation, and a specific request to evict the tenant. A landlord should attach a copy of the lease and the eviction notice sent to the tenant.
A copy of the lawsuit and the summons must be served on the tenant by the sheriff or other authorized process server. Next, the tenant is given 5 days to respond to the complaint. If the tenant does not file an answer within 5 days, then the landlord can seek default judgment and obtain a writ of possession.
Otherwise, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, each side will get a chance to present evidence and make arguments. If the lawsuit is successful, then the judge will give the landlord a judgment of possession.
At this point, the judge will issue a writ of possession, which will be provided to the sheriff. The sheriff will post it on the tenant’s door, giving them 24 hours to vacate the premises. If they fail to do so, then the sheriff or landlord can forcibly evict the tenant and padlock the door - with or without the tenant’s belongings inside of the unit.
Free Florida Eviction Notices
If you have decided that it is time for a tenant to go, then you will need an eviction notice. Remember: if you fail to provide a tenant with proper notice in accordance with Florida law, then you will likely lose your eviction lawsuit. That is why it is so important to send the right notice to your tenant and (if applicable) give them the opportunity to cure the problem. Below are free eviction templates you can download and use for both failure to pay rent and noncompliance for matters outside of rent.
Of course, dealing with eviction notices can be stressful, particularly if you want to make sure that the process is done correctly. An experienced Hillsborough County property management company can handle evictions for you, from dealing with issues that arise with tenants to sending eviction notices to working with real estate lawyers to pursue a formal eviction through the court system.
Simplify Property Management with Eaton Realty
Becoming a landlord can be a great long-term plan for financial stability. Unfortunately, it often involves dealing with problem tenants - which may lead to lost rent, property damage, and legal bills for eviction proceedings. A property management company can help you avoid many of these issues by properly screening tenants, handling issues as they arise, and handling the eviction process when necessary.
At Eaton Realty, we have significant experience in all aspects of property management. If you own investment properties in Hillsborough County, we will work with you to maximize profits and minimize stress. Tolearn more about our services, fill out our online contact form or call our office at 813-672-8022.