Florida residential landlords must follow an eviction process to legally evict a tenant from the lease property. A landlord must not engage in "self-help" eviction procedures, such as forcing a tenant to leave a rental unit by such means as shutting off the utilities or changing the locks on the doors. Chapter 83 of Florida Statutes states the legal basis and proceeding for evictions.
Before filing a Complaint to recover possession, the landlord must serve a Three-Day Notice demanding payment of rent or possession of the premises within three (3) days after the date of delivery of notice. After the expiration time on the service of the Three-Day Notice, landlord may proceed with filing the Complaint for Eviction. The tenant has five days (exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) after service of the Summons to file an answer. If an answer is filed and monies are deposited, usually the court will schedule a mediation or hearing. If the tenant fails to answer the Summons, the landlord may file a Motion for Default and proceed with obtaining a Final Judgment for Possession. Upon the default being entered by the Clerk, the Judge will then review the file and enter the Final Judgment for Possession. After entry of the Judgment, the Clerk will issue a Writ of Possession to the Sheriff commanding him to put the landlord in possession after 24 hours’ notice conspicuously posted on the premises. The Writ must be served by the Sheriff.
There are several defenses available to tenants for fighting an eviction:
Landlord's eviction notice and/or service to the tenant had errors
Tenant has paid late rent in full
Tenant has not paid rent because landlord has failed to maintain the rental unit premises under the applicable building, housing or health code.
Landlord’s retaliation because the tenant has done some act such as complaining to a government agency that the landlord violated a building, housing, or health code, the tenant participating in or organizing a tenants' organization, the tenant complaining to the landlord for not maintaining the rental unit, or the tenant terminating the rental agreement because the tenant has been called to active duty in the military
Landlord evicts the tenant based on discrimination.