Rights and Duties of Landlords and Tenants
Under Florida law, landlords and tenants have certain rights and duties. Information on the rights and duties of landlords and tenants can be found in the consumer information section of the Florida Bar website.
A lease is an agreement to rent property. It may be written or oral. Most leases are written because oral agreements can be subject to misunderstandings. A written lease can be in the form of a formal contract or simply a copy of a letter that states the rights and obligations of both tenant and landlord. Florida law requires that most notices to and from a landlord must be in writing, even if the rental agreement is oral. In cases where there is no written lease, the term of your rental payment schedule determines the length of the agreement.
Termination of Tenancy
Under Florida Statute, tenancy without a specific duration may be terminated by either party by giving the proper written notice.
Failure to Meet Lease Obligations
Except for the failure to pay rent, a landlord must notify tenants in writing of the shortcomings and allow seven days to correct the situation. If a tenant does not reply within seven days, the landlord can begin the eviction process.
Non-Payment of Rent
The landlord must serve the tenant with a written notice allowing three days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to pay the rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not pay within three days, the landlord may begin the eviction process. The landlord must file an eviction in the Clerk's office in the county the dwelling is located. The tenant then has five days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to respond in writing to the court. If there is no response from the tenant a judgement is entered against them. The Clerk will issue a "Writ of Possession" to be served by the sheriff notifying the tenant that they will be evicted in 24 hours.
Rent deposits must be paid to the Clerk's office using cash or a cashier's check/certified funds. Please note there are additional handling fees of 3.5% of the first $500 and then 1.5% on the balance. For example, if it's an $800 deposit, the handling fees are $15 + $4.50 = $19.50.
Florida law does not allow a landlord to force a tenant out by:
- Shutting off the utilities,
- Denying the tenant access to the premises by changing locks,
- Removing the tenant's personal property from the dwelling unless it is a lawful eviction,
- Removing outside doors, locks, roof, walls, or windows except for purposes maintenance, repair, or replacement.
Florida Rural Legal Services
Florida Rural Legal Services (FRLS) helps low-income clients with civil cases and questions regarding housing. Full details are available on the FRLS website.
Evictions are handled by our Civil Law Department. Please note, Clerk employees are not permitted to give legal advice, which includes identifying which forms should be used in any particular situation. You may want to research Florida Statutes or utilize the Florida Courts help center. It is also advisable to consult an attorney if you are unsure of how to proceed. If you do not know a lawyer you may contact Lawyer Referral at 1-800-342-8011. The following instructions list the forms and steps needed for filing an eviction.
Utilize our interactive TurboCourt service to prepare your own forms for Landlord-Tenant Disputes. There is a $10 fee for this service.
The forms used for filing an eviction are available on the Florida Bar website. Authorization to Property Manager and Consent to Case Closure After 90 Days of Inactivity forms are located in our document center, on the right-hand side of this page. Packets of forms and instructions are available at any of our three offices.
Documents and Fees Required for Filing a Tenant Eviction for Possession Only
Copies of the following forms and documents are needed when a landlord, property manager, or attorney file a tenant eviction as well as the associated filing fees.
Cash, money order, business or personal checks accepted. Identification is required for processing personal checks; no third party checks will be accepted. We also accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover cards and American Express. If you pay by credit, there is an additional nonrefundable charge that is assessed and remitted to the financial service provider.
The plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) complete name, address, zip code and telephone number must be furnished at the time of filing. All documents must be legible.
Step 1 - Documents Needed for Initial Filing
|Document||Number of Copies for One Defendant||Number of Copies for Two Defendants|
|Notice From Landlord to Tenant (Florida Bar Forms 1 or 2)||3 copies||5 copies|
|Executed Written Lease||3 copies||5 copies|
|Complaint for Landlord to Evict Tenants (Florida Bar Forms 5, 5a, or 6)||1 original, 2 copies||1 original, 4 copies|
|Summons (Florida Bar Form 7 or 8)||1 original, 2 copies||1 original, 4 copies|
|Property Managers - Letter of Authorization (See Clerk Document Center)||1 copy||1 copy|
|Certificate of Service (See Clerk Document Center)||1 original||1 original|
|Consent to Case Closure After 90 Days of Inactivity Form (See Clerk's Document Center)||1 original||1 original|
|Postage paid envelope addressed to each defendant for mailing a copy of the summons and complaint. If omitted, additional postage will be charged at the time of filing.||1 envelope per defendant||1 envelope per defendant|
|Tenant Evictions for Possession Only||$185.00|
|Oath, Administering, Attesting and Sealing||$3.50|
|Issuing a Summons||$10.00 each|
|Service Fee By Sheriff|
(The Clerk's office can only accept a check or money order made payable to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.)
|$40.00 per defendant|
|Service by a Certified Process Server||Check with server to verify fee. A list of certified process servers is provided by the 10th Judicial Circuit.|
Step 2 - Documents Needed After Tenant is Served
|Document||Number of Copies Needed|
|Non Military Affidavit (Florida Bar Form 81)||1 original|
|Motion for Clerk's Default (Florida Bar Form 76 or Form 77)||1 original|
|Motion for Default Final Judgment (Florida Bar Form 78 or 79)||1 original|
|Final Judgment - Eviction (Florida Bar Form 9 or Form 66)||1 original, plus a copy for each party and a stamped addresses envelope for each party|
|Writ of Possession (Florida Bar Form 11)||1 original, 2 copies|
Service fee by Sheriff to serve the Writ of Possession is $90.00. Check or money order are accepted made payable to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Cash is not accepted for this service.
Landlords are obligated to maintain the premises. If the unit is a single-family home, duplex, or mobile home, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, landlords must:
- Comply with building, housing, and health codes,
- Maintain the roof, floors, windows, screens, and keep all other structural components in good repair where there are no applicable building, housing, or health codes.
If the unit is other than a single-family house, duplex, or mobile home, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, landlords must
- Provide for extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, and wood-destroying organisms
- Provide running water and hot water,
- Remove garbage from the premises,
- Provide a smoke detection device,
- Provide locks and keys,
- Provide a working heating system,
- Provide clean and safe condition of common areas
Tenants are obligated to maintain the premises:
- Comply with Housing and health Codes
- Keep dwelling clean
- Remove garbage from dwelling unit
- Do not destroy, damage, or deface the premises
- Occupy the dwelling without disturbing the peace and do not abuse the electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or other systems furnished by the landlord.
Failure to Comply
If the landlord fails to follow the requirements of the law or lease, tenants may be able to withhold rent. Tenants must announce the intention by certified mail at least seven days before rent is due to allow time to remedy the problem. If the problem is not corrected within seven days and rent is withheld, a landlord may take a tenant to court to collect it. Tenant must pay the rent into the court registry pending the judge's determination of the case.
Tenants who do not comply with the requirements of their lease may be evicted. Eviction processes vary depending on the offense.