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Get Out of My Swamp! Different Ways to Remove Unwanted Occupants from Your Residence through Eviction, Ejectment, and Unlawful Detainer in Florida

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You’re buying a home: great neighborhood, no issues with the inspection, even the HOA fees are reasonable. The sellers are giving you a good price, but here’s the catch – someone is living in this home you intend on purchasing, and the sellers want to make it your problem to get these people out of the home. So, what to do? When it comes to regaining possession of a property from unwanted occupants, three terms often come into play: eviction, ejectment, and unlawful detainer. While these terms might seem interchangeable, they represent separate legal processes with their own requirements and critical distinctions.

A Closer Look at Your Options: Eviction, Ejectment, and Unlawful Detainer

1. Eviction: 

Eviction is the most common term used to describe the process of removing a tenant from a property. In Florida, eviction proceedings are governed by Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes, which outlines specific procedures and requirements for landlords and tenants. Key points regarding eviction include:

  • The existence of a landlord-tenant relationship through some sort of lease or rental agreement; 
  • Landlords must provide tenants with written notice before filing for eviction;
  • Typically heard in county court and can be a quick process; and
  • If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the sheriff may execute a writ of possession to remove the tenant from the property.

2. Ejectment: 

Ejectment is a legal action used to remove someone from real property who may claim some legal or equitable title, interest, or a right to the property, but has no lease or landlord-tenant relationship with the owner. Key points regarding ejectment include:

  • Typically heard in circuit court and are not summary (quick) procedures;
  • The rightful owner must prove superior legal title to the property and that the occupant is unlawfully occupying the premises;
  • No requirement for pre-suit notice to the unwanted occupants; and
  • Usually more complex and time-consuming compared to evictions.

3. Unlawful Detainer: 

Finally, unlawful detainer is a legal action used to regain possession of a real property from an occupant who does not have a lease, does not have permission to stay on the property, and does not have any claim or interest in ownership of the property. Key points regarding unlawful detainer include:

  • Usually involves a friend or family member who had permission to stay from the owner for a period of time, but then refuses to leave when asked;
  • Similar to eviction cases and can be expedited due to the urgency of the situation;
  • Typically filed in county court unless the damages claimed exceed $50,000.00;
  • The owner must provide proper notice to the occupant before initiating unlawful detainer proceedings; and
  • The court may issue a writ of possession to remove the occupant from the property if they fail to vacate voluntarily.

Understanding the distinctions between eviction, ejectment, and unlawful detainer is essential for property owners in Florida. If you have questions or concerns about removing an unwanted guest from your property, please seek the advice of a qualified, licensed Florida attorney

Picture of Mark C. Mann, Esq.

Mark C. Mann, Esq.

Mark focuses his practice on representing individuals in civil litigation including personal injury and wrongful deaths, real estate disputes, contract disputes, contested probate matters, and family law cases.

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