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Evicting a Roommate in Florida

If you and your roommate are both on a lease, you cannot evict your roommate. If you are the only one on the lease, it is possible to evict your roommate in Florida.

In Florida, the question of evicting a roommate depends mostly on your lease. If you and your roommate are both on a lease, you cannot evict your roommate. If you are the only one on the lease, it's possible to evict your roommate—although it's still a time-consuming and complicated process.

Your answer depends on who is named on the lease. Here's a summary of your right to evict in a handful of different scenarios:

  • What if you're both on the lease? You cannot evict your roommate.
  • What if there's no lease? If there is no lease in place, you are not a “landlord” under Florida law. As such, you cannot evict your roommate.
  • What if I’m on the lease and my roommate is not? You can evict your roommate, who is considered a subletter under the law. This is the case even if you and your roommate do not have a formal sublease.

Florida only allows landlords to file eviction proceedings against tenants. However, Florida law defines a landlord as someone who is leasing a property. That means that if you are named on the lease and your roommate is not, you may file an eviction proceeding against them because the law gives you landlord status. If both you and your roommate are on a lease, neither of you can evict the other, as you are both landlords with the same rights to the apartment.

It’s important to understand what a “tenant” is under Florida law. A tenant is someone who has an agreement to occupy property. That agreement can be oral or written, but there must be some sort of agreement wherein you are letting your roommate live on property you hold a lease to—this is why two tenants who are not on a lease cannot evict one another.

How do I know if I have a good reason to evict my roommate?

There are two grounds for eviction in Florida. The first is that your roommate has not paid the rent. This is the case even if you and your roommate do not have a formal written sublease—although you may eventually need to prove in court that you two had a verbal agreement (more on that below).

The second is that your roommate has violated the rental agreement in some way. Remember, if both of you are on a lease, you cannot evict your roommate, so the rental agreement in this situation would be a sublease. If you and your roommate entered into a sublease agreement, and he has violated a term thereof, he can be evicted on that basis.

If there is no written sublease, then you have a problem. Technically speaking, you can evict your subtenant based on a breach of an oral agreement the two of you made, but you are going to need to prove the existence of the agreement in court, and that he violated it. Otherwise it's a case of "he said, she said" and the outcome of the eviction process isn't guaranteed.

Should you enlist your landlord’s help?

If you and your roommate are both on the lease, the only way you can get your roommate out is by involving your landlord. Talk to your landlord and explain why you want your roommate out. If your roommate is causing damage to the rental unit, or if his actions make it difficult for you to pay the rent, your landlord may also want him out.

On the other hand, if you are subletting, you should be careful before involving your landlord. That’s because there is nothing in Florida law that says tenants can always sublease an apartment. If your lease bans you from subletting, but you did it anyway, you have violated your lease. You might not want to draw your landlord’s attention to this fact. So if your roommate is not on your lease, go read the lease and see if subletting is allowed. If so, it can’t hurt to talk to your landlord!

How much notice do I have to give to evict my roommate?

If you are evicting your roommate based on a failure to pay rent, you need to provide your them with a three-day notice to either pay rent or vacate the premises. A failure to comply with some other part of the sublease requires seven days' notice. Finally, if you and your roommate have a “month-to-month” agreement with no fixed end date, you must provide him with 15 days' notice to leave the apartment. You can find samples of all the forms you need to fill out and give your roommate here.

All of the above notices must be served according to Florida law. This essentially means that you (or someone acting on your behalf) must hand the notice directly to your roommate. Mailing is not sufficient.

How do I file eviction papers in Florida?

If you have served your notice, the designated time period has passed, and your roommate has not either cured her default or moved out, it’s time to file. This means filling out and filing both a Summons and a Complaint with your local county clerk. If you're also asking to be awarded damages for back rent, you need to use a different Summons and Complaint. Filing fees differ depending on the county, but in most counties, it will cost you $185 to file. Bring five copies of your lease, and five copies of the notice you served on your roommate. You will also need to file these with the county clerk. You will then receive a stamped copy of the Summons and Complaint, signed by a representative of the county clerk, which you can then serve on your roommate.

One very important thing to note—you cannot serve the Summons and Complaint directly to your roommate. It must be done by a third party. You can hire a process server, or request that the county sheriff serve your roommate.

After you serve the Summons and Complaint, your roommate has five days to respond with his defense to the eviction, if he chooses to do so. Whether he responds or not, your next step involves the courtroom.

What happens in court?

A Florida eviction is a complicated process, whether or not your roommate decides to contest it. At this point, you might want to consult with an attorney. If you decide to try and do it on your own, follow the steps below.

If your roommate fails to respond to the Summons and Complaint within five days, you are going to need to bring what is known as a “clerk’s motion” to have the court evict him. Luckily, the motion is not a complicated one. If you are not asking for damages, use Form 76. If you are asking for damages, use Form 77. File this with the county clerk—it will get your case assigned to a judge. After the county clerk signs off, you need to bring another motion, this time to ask the judge on your case to issue a default judgment. Now, finally, you will receive a court date.

If your roommate decides to contest the eviction, your roommate will be responsible for filing his own papers with the county clerk seeking to stop the eviction. After he does so, both of you will be informed of a date on which you must show up in court.

Whether your roommate is contesting the eviction or not, you want to be totally prepared for your court date. Make sure to bring all of your evidence to show the judge at your first scheduled court appearance. Provide bank statements showing your roommates previous rent payments, as well as proof that you paid the full monthly rent to your landlord. This will help you establish the existence of an agreement between you and your roommate. If you are trying to evict your roommate based on some other violation of your sublease, bring all the proof you need to show the judge that he breached the sublease. For example, if he physically damaged the apartment, bring photographs.

If your roommate contests the eviction, this process could go on for some time. Be ready for a trial, which will involve several court appearances and could drag on for months. At this point, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a landlord-tenant lawyer.

If your roommate declines to contest the eviction, and you are seeking a default judgment, things should proceed much more easily. If all goes well, and you prove your case, the judge will issue an order of eviction against your roommate (called a “writ of restitution”), giving him a set number of days to remove himself from the apartment. If he fails to do so, you can provide the writ of restitution to the county sheriff, who will forcibly remove your roommate and his belongings from the apartment. And finally, you are free!

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.