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How to Evict an Unwanted House Guest

Superior Client Service

‘Tis the season to spend some time with cherished loved ones and make memories that hopefully last forever. It is also the time of the year when our office gets a lot of calls from individuals who need to evict a person from their home who has overstayed their welcome.

I’m not necessarily talking about the dreaded in-laws you let come over for the holidays who are deciding to make their vacation an extended stay (although it could work for them too).

When I get this type of phone call regarding an eviction of an unwanted house guest, its more often than not a person who has been allowed to move into a person’s house for an extended period of time, the relationship has gone bad for some reason, and the person has been asked but refuses to leave. Under such circumstances, a person must file an unlawful detainer action against the unwanted home guest to get a court order evicting him/her from the property.

Unlawful Detainer actions are governed by Chapter 82, Florida Statutes. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 82.03(1), “[a] person entitled to possession of real property, including constructive possession by a record titleholder, has a cause of action against a person who obtained possession of that real property by forcible entry, unlawful entry, or unlawful detention and may recover possession and damages. More often than not we are dealing with an unlawful detention of someone’s property.

Unlawful detention is defined as “possessing real property, even if the possession is temporary or applies only to a portion of the real property, without the consent of a person entitled to possession of the real property or after the withdrawal of consent by such person.” Fla. Stat. 82.01(4). It is important to note that in order to utilize an unlawful detainer action to evict an individual, there must not be the presence of a lease agreement, payment of expenses, or any kind of agreement which gives an ownership interest in the property to the individual such as an option purchase contract.

Unlawful detainers are expedited proceedings which mean they can last just a couple of weeks from start to finish. As with any legal action to evict someone, there are pitfalls to be aware of before filing such an action without the help of an experienced real estate lawyer.

If you are dealing with a property matter in Fort Myers, FL, call Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A. at (239) 970-6844 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule an initial consultation. Our legal team handles a wide range of real estate issues such as evictions, foreclosures, real estate closings, actions to quiet title to real property, resolving or litigating boundary disputes, and title issues or transfers.