In a perfect world, all tenants would pay their rent on time, abide by the rental agreement, and become the model of rental perfection. Unfortunately, none of us live in that world. Sometimes, no matter how carefully you screen and select prospective renters, you'll have to evict a tenant. For landlords in and around the Miami area, here's what you need to know to make sure the process runs smoothly.

Understand Everyone's Responsibilities
Before you get to the point of needing to evict a tenant, understand all of your responsibilities as well as the tenant's.
Landlord responsibilities include making sure the property is livable. This means it must have:

  • Working plumbing
  • Hot water and heating
  • A sound structure
  • Working doors and windows
  • No pests
  • Compliance with all local health, building and safety codes

As the landlord, you're responsible for keeping the property maintained that it meets these requirements. You must cover the financial expense of doing so.
Tenant's have their own responsibilities which include:

  • Using the property the way it was intended.
  • Keeping the property in a state that doesn't violate local health, building, or safety codes
  • Not committing crimes on the property
  • Following the rental agreement — whether oral or written — which includes paying the rent as agreed.

Both you and your tenant must comply with your rental agreement. If you want to change a clause, you'll need to wait until it's time to sign a new lease. In Miami Beach, if you want to change an oral month-to-month agreement or a written agreement with no specified duration, you must give 30 days written notice.

How to Evict in Miami
Not every landlord or tenant takes their responsibilities as seriously as others. Sometimes, life happens and bills go unpaid. Either way, you may find yourself in the position to evict your tenant. The process has multiple steps, and it's important to follow each one exactly.

  1. First, you must inform your tenant, in writing, of the specific violation and give them time to correct the problem. This includes non-payment of rent. Note: You can accept a partial payment of rent and still evict.
  2. If the tenant won't leave or comply with your written notice, it may be time to evict. Landlords cannot change locks or cut-off utilities to force someone out. You must go to court and get a Court Order. Note: You cannot evict in retaliation against complaints against you.
  3. You will need to serve your tenant a written notice that you're terminating the rental agreement, letting them know they will need to move out.
  4. If the tenant refuses to leave, you'll need to file a complaint with the courts and have your tenant served with a summons and an official complaint.
  5. The tenant has five business days from the official summons to comply. A hearing date can be requested after the fifth day. If the tenant fails to comply or answer the complaint, you can proceed to evict without a hearing, but only with a court order issued by a judge.
  6. If the tenant disputes the amount of rent or the complaint being filed, a hearing must be held. You'll have to wait 20 days to set a hearing if you're seeking damages from the tenant. Note: Tenants do not have to pay the rent during this process.
  7. At the hearing, you can ask for an eviction. If the judge agrees, the sheriff's office will serve the official notice to the tenant. The tenant has 24 hours to vacate the property or the sheriff will remove them and supervise the removal of their personal property. You, as the landlord, handle none of this.

The eviction process can be complicated and lengthy. You need to understand how it works so that you know how best to deal with tenants who do not comply with the rental agreement. It's always advisable to discuss the eviction process and other issues with tenants with your attorney. Your attorney will make sure you are compliant with Florida and Miami landlord/tenant laws and the eviction process.

POSTED March 11 2015 4:54 PM

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