If you are reading this article, chances are, you’re a property owner and need to understand the eviction process in Florida.
If so, keep reading.
We’ll point you to a great breakdown of the eviction process in Florida and give you our 2 cent on how to best navigate the Florida eviction process.
Let’s dig in.
The Eviction Process in Florida
A really great explanation of the Florida eviction process was compiled by ipropertymanagement; so we won’t elaborate much on it here.
For quick reference, check out the flowchart they put together below and see their website if you’re really interested in the technicalities of the process, see their write up on it.
With that being said, here is a pretty awesome flowchart depicting the Florida eviction process.
Why Investor’s Should Evict Tenants Quickly
Evicting tenants is never fun.
Honestly, I have never met a tenant who enjoys being evicted; nor have I ever met a property owner who enjoys evicting tenants.
Here are a few thoughts for why you, as a property owner, SHOULD evict tenants quickly when it’s obvious it’s not going to work out:
- Lost income – The most obvious reason you should evict tenants quickly is that you are literally losing money. Late payments are a good indicator that things are not as stable as required.
- Bad tenants tend to care for your property less – If a tenant continually violates their lease agreement, chances are, they likely don’t care for your property as much as a great tenant would. This may or may not result in damages that you’ll have to pay to fix later on. As an Investor and property owner, you should always want to protect your investment and ensure it stays in the best shape possible.
- Opportunity costs – If you are an active real estate investor who is managing your own properties, your time is much better spent trying to generate new revenue. If you are spending your time with bad tenants, you are not finding new money.
- Peace of mind – Lastly, dealing with bad tenants can not only be financially draining, but mentally and emotionally draining as well. Do yourself a favor, evict bad tenants quickly and fill vacancies with great tenants.
How to Evict Someone (Holland & Picht Approach)
Alright. So let’s dig into how to evict someone in practice.
In this section, we’ll show you our exact flow for evicting tenants.
As described previously, this really breaks down into two separate flows; one for late payments and another for lease violations.
- Prompt tenants to avoid late fees – On the 4th of each month, we send out a friendly email to delinquent tenants and encourage them to avoid late fees. Again, we don’t WANT evictions. In most cases, it’s likely that the tenant has just forgotten to pay.
- Add late fee and email courtesy late fee notice – On the 5th, our system will add a $50 late fee and send out an email to the tenant. The system will then add a $10 late fee per day until the 8th.
- Email attorney and ask to hand deliver “Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate” letter – For us, on the 5th, we simply send a list of delinquent rents to our attorneys; who then hand deliver the required notice to pay rent or vacate.
- Make final attempt to reconcile – On the 8th of each month, we will make a final attempt to reconcile with delinquent tenants. Depending on the situation, this may or may not include a “cash for keys” offer.
- Ask attorney to move forward with eviction – Finally, if the tenant has not paid by the 10th, we’ll re-engage our Attorneys and ask them to move forward with the eviction. From there, they’ll manage the eviction process and keep us informed.
- After 1st lease violation – Upon violation of their lease, we will first call the tenant to talk through the violation. During the call, we let them know that we’ll be adding a $50 late fee and there will be a formal email documenting the violation. If the violation is not remedied in 30 days, the tenant risks entering the eviction process. Again, the goal is to NOT evict anyone. Most of the time, tenants are understanding and quickly remedy the issue.
- After 2nd lease violation – After the 2nd lease violation, we repeat the same process as mentioned above. We formally remind the tenant that continued lease violations could result in the tenant moving into the eviction process.
- After 3rd lease violation – In a majority of situations, it’s a 3 strikes and you’re out scenario. Upon a 3rd lease violation, or in situations where the tenant has not yet remedied the violation, we may or may not call the tenant and try to work out a cash for keys type offer that encourages the tenants to move out. If that offer fails, we will engage our attorneys the next day and ask them to move forward with the eviction process.
Minimizing Evictions With Best Practices
Lastly, while it’s important to really understand the eviction process, as you’ll inevitably need to evict someone as a property owner, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put things in place that minimize the need for evictions altogether.
In most cases, this is where a great property manager comes in handy.
Take, for example, the Holland & Picht practices mentioned below; all of which work to MINIMIZE evictions:
One of the best ways to get great tenants is to have a solid screening process. The trick here though is to realize that screening is more than simply running a background check.
There are really three different opportunities you have to screen tenants:
- When advertising the vacancy – Most people want to generate as many leads as they can for their vacancy. The problem with that is you will get a lot of leads that don’t qualify for your listing. Instead of trying to go wide, be very specific and honest with the requirements. For example, if the property has a no pet policy, say that in the ad. This will reduce the number of pet owners who apply and minimize the likelihood that you’ll catch someone trying to sneak a pet in later.
- Pre-screening tenants – As you start to get leads for you vacancy, start by calling them and working through a scripted-ish phone screening process. You’ll essentially want to reiterate the requirements for the property and get a feel for if they will meet those requirements. If they indicate that they may not meet the requirements, remind them that there will be an application fee and give them the opportunity to get back to you later if needed. If they know they won’t meet the requirements, this is usually enough to prevent them from wanting to move forward. If there are no indications that they won’t meet the requirements, move forward with setting up a property showing.
- In-person screening – You obviously need to be careful to not judge a book by its cover here. However, if a potential tenant shows up to the showing drunk, chances are they’ll be problematic in the future. Same goes for leads that don’t show up at all. If a prospective tenant indicates they want to move forward, send the your application, collect the application fee, and move forward with processing. After that, you should select the best lead that PASS the property’s criteria.
Similarly, when you finally find and land a great tenant, make sure you have a professional hand off or orientation for them.
We have a professionally made presentation to help guide us through this but you can take a more informal approach if needed.
The important take away here is that you want to get things off on the right foot and that can largely be done with managing expectations up front.
Think about what it is you want to communicate to your new tenant at this point and find a way to consistently deliver that for all new tenants.
At Holland & Picht, we perform quarterly inspections.
This lets the tenants know two things:
- We care about them and want to make sure their needs are met.
- We are serious about managing the property properly.
If you are managing your properties yourself, you should follow suit and perform routine inspections as well. Having this in place will help you to catch and address any issues earlier and avoid uncomfortable situations altogether.