Unlawful Detainer

What is an unlawful detainer? Quite simply, when you allow someone to live in your home, whether it’s an adult child or a girlfriend or boyfriend or a friend and you ask them to move out, and they refuse, AND THERE IS NOT A LEASE AGREEMENT, you must file an Unlawful Detainer action in county court of the county where the property is located- not an eviction.  

For example, let’s say you allow your adult child to move into your home because they are “temporarily” without financial means. They move in, don’t pay rent, help with utilities, groceries, or even clean up after themselves. But you did not have any sort of written, or even concrete verbal agreement as to what the terms of your generosity would be. And you know you are being taken advantage of and you want them out. They refuse.  But how do you get them out if there was never a lease agreement?

Well, there is a way to do this, and even though it requires you to follow the legal process, it is faster than your typical eviction or termination of a lease, both of which require notice prior to filing the eviction.

The process is called an Unlawful Detainer action. It is found in Chapter 82 of the Florida Statutes and controls removal of individuals who do not have a lease (oral or written)  and either entered your property with permission which you later revoked or entered your property without permission at all (essentially a squatter).

Because there is no lease, you are not required to give a three, or seven, or even fifteen day notice to remove the people from your home. You also may file the case in County Court and do not need to show proof of ownership (i.e. proof that the deed is in your name, which is required for an Ejectment action).

Once the Unlawful Detainer lawsuit is served, the individual(s) residing in the property have five days to file a sufficient legal reply, or else a Default Final Judgment may be entered against them. (In order to get the Default Judgment, a motion needs to be filed with the Clerk of Court – this is where it gets tricky which is why you need a lawyer).

There are many issues that could arise in such an action, even the possibility of a legally sufficient Answer to the Complaint which could trigger a hearing in front of a judge and take more time away from the actual eviction of your squatters.

It is important to contact our experienced landlord/tenant attorney to discuss your case and the possible outcomes. Call us at (727) 372-3111 today.