The rightful owner of land has the right to use and enjoy their property at the exclusion of others. A landowner’s rights also allow them to permit others to enter and remain on the land. Landlords may terminate their permission for others to occupy the property and can “remove” them using certain legal procedures. While legal actions such as evictions are often employed to affect someone’s removal from real property, there are other methods for removing unwanted occupants, depending on the nature of their occupancy. This article outlines the primary methods for removing another person from the property, and the procedural requirements involved.
Under Florida Statutes § 51.011, most of the following methods for removing another person from your property may be expedited using what is known as “summary procedure.” Ordinarily, the parties to a civil action must complete certain procedures within a set time limit. However, Florida law shortens the standard time allotted to complete these procedures in specific cases.
Summary proceedings affect the time to conduct the following procedures:
- Pleadings – When a plaintiff initiates a legal action, the defendant only has 5 days from service of process to respond.
- Discovery – The parties are free to conduct depositions at any time. However, other discovery requests require court approval to ensure the case continues to move along swiftly.
- Jury – Requests for a jury trial must be completed “not late than 5 days after the action comes to issue.”
- New trial – Motions for a new trial must be filed and served within 5 days after the court issues a verdict.
- Appeal – A notice of appeal is required to be filed and served within 30 days after the court renders its final judgment.
Eviction from Residential Property
Eviction is a removal procedure that is strictly limited to arrangements between a landlord and tenant. Such arrangements are established by a verbal or written lease agreement where the landlord allows a tenant to reside on their property in exchange for paying rent. Landlords may employ eviction procedures in cases where the tenant violates a material term of their rental agreement. Eviction procedures may be accelerated using Florida’s summary procedures.
Unlawful Detainer Actions
Unlawful detainer actions are available for landowners who seek to remove someone whom they initially permitted to enter and remain on the property, absent a formal written instrument to that effect, such as a lease agreement or contract. Unlawful detainer actions typically involve occupants who overstayed their welcome. For example, a landowner can make use of an unlawful detainer action to force their adult child to leave the property, even though the landowner allowed them to live there at first. Unlawful detainer actions can also be used to remove a significant other – such as a recently estranged boyfriend or girlfriend – from the property. Significantly, unlawful detainer actions can be advanced using Florida’s summary procedures.
An ejectment action – also known as a “betterment action” – may be utilized when a landowner wishes to make an occupant leave their property on the basis that their legal right to be there is defective or otherwise inferior to the plaintiff’s title. Usually, ejectment actions are used by the land’s rightful owner as a method of obtaining relief from an “adverse possessor.”
Someone qualifies as an “adverse possessor” if their presence on part or all of another’s property qualifies as a trespass, but the rightful landowner has forgotten about their property. A trespasser can acquire ownership over land they adversely possess.
Ejectment actions can also be used to contest the imposition of a tax deed on the property. Under Florida law, a tax deed’s validity doesn’t require additional proof beyond its issuance. Therefore, landowners must impugn the tax deed’s validity by showing that there is no legal basis for issuing it.
Unlike evictions and unlawful detainer actions, ejectment procedures may not be advanced using summary proceedings.
Contact Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A. at (239) 970-6844
At Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A. we have dedicated years of our practice to assisting Fort Myers residents resolving certain legal disputes regarding the use of real property. Whether you’re a residential or commercial landowner or tenant, our skilled attorneys take pride in delivering quality legal services to Florida residents to protect their legal rights to use and occupy the land.
Please visit our website to complete an online form for a free initial consultation regarding your case today.