Facing Eviction? Know Your Rights… Your Landlord Can’t Just Throw You Out!

Are you worried about being evicted? If so, we understand the stress that you are experiencing. The good news is that you DO have rights in this process. In today’s blog entry, we’re going to shed some light on the process of eviction and highlight your rights as a tenant. If you’re facing eviction, it’s important to speak to an attorney – and we can help!

The process begins when our landlord gives you an eviction notice, which details how much rent you owe and demands that you pay the rent or move out. The eviction notice must be hand delivered, mailed, or left at the residence, and the landlord has to keep a copy. You must be allowed three days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to make a payment. If you don’t pay the rent within three days (or move out), the landlord may begin the eviction procedure.

The first thing the landlord will probably do is to file an eviction action in court, a request to the court to evict you. A formal eviction notification, a Summons and Complaint, is delivered to you by a process server. You generally have five business days to file a reply. You need to pay the rent that’s due to the registry of the court in addition to filing a response. Not answering will usually mean that you’re evicted by default.

The judge then issues a writ of possession, the judgment is delivered to the sheriff, and then the sheriff may show up at your home demanding that you vacate the premises.

If your landlord doesn’t follow this procedure, he or she may be violating Florida law. A landlord isn’t permitted to force a tenant out. Tactics like shutting off the utilities or changing the locks are against the law. A landlord who does any of these things may be sued by the tenant for damages.

If you’re being evicted because you haven’t paid your rent, but you haven’t paid your rent because the landlord hasn’t been maintaining the rental unit, this can be a defense. You must have notified the landlord of the problem in writing.

A landlord can’t evict you in retaliation because you’ve complained to a government agency about violations in building codes or health codes. A landlord also can’t evict you based on race, religion, gender, family status, or disability.

If you’re involved in eviction proceedings, it’s highly recommended that you have a lawyer on your team. We can assist – please contact us today to learn more!