Our Team Is On Your Side
With Experience and Dedication
We Will Fight For You
Shot of a young couple looking stressed while holding an eviction notice.
By: Roberto Vazquez

Appealing an Unlawful Detainer in Florida

Latest News

What is an Unlawful Detainer in Florida?

An unlawful detainer is a court process that assists homeowners, property owners, or other legally positioned people in obtaining court help to remove someone from their property. 

For example, if you have a tenant, you would evict them if they weren’t paying rent or were otherwise a less-than-desirable tenant. In a situation of someone living in your home or your property without a lease agreement or that is paying your rent, you may not have legal recourse, such as an eviction. 

With an unlawful detainer, you can engage in this process to remove the person from your property or home. Typically this process involves romantic partners, family members, or friends.

Why is it an Unlawful Detainer?

If you have legal rights to a home or property and the person you are asking to leave does not, this may lead to an unlawful detainer situation. Without a written or oral legal agreement for a lease term, it is hard to have recourse without an unlawful detainer.

An example may be a relative or romantic partner refusing to leave your home. If they are not a joint property owner and you are the sole owner, you may choose to pursue an unlawful detainer process to get them to leave. If there is another joint owner, you may need to involve them in removing an unwanted guest from your home.

What Are the Steps to the Unlawful Detainer Process?

The first step in the process is to file a complaint. Due to Florida law, you don’t have to notify the defendant before filing this complaint and pursuing a lawsuit.

The defendant has five legal business days to respond to the complaint. If the defendant answers, the case may go to mediation to resolve the situation before going to the courts.

Mediation can be effective and aid in the two sides coming to a mutual agreement on a date that the defendant will move out. Mediation is appealing for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that it typically requires less cost and less time to get a desirable result. Personal issues are also kept more confidential, rather than in a courtroom, to come to an agreement that both parties can be satisfied with.

What if Mediation Doesn’t Work?

The courts will get involved, and you can work with your attorney to prove your desire to have the defendant removed from your property. If you win the case, the defendant will have a short time to appeal the decision, typically less than ten days.

An appeal is not typically likely unless an error has occurred during the original court proceedings.

Defense for an Unlawful Detainer

Due to the nature of unlawful detainer cases, it is difficult for the defendant to win. This doesn’t mean, however, that it is impossible. If the defendant can prove, for example, that they have been paying rent during their stay, this may be cause for courts to determine the case invalid.

For example, if a loved one stays temporarily with the plaintiff and contributes to the household or pays rent and can prove it, the case may be thrown out.

Additionally, the case may be thrown out if the defendant can provide evidence that the plaintiff doesn’t have legal rights to the property in question. Generally, these details will be ironed out long before the case gets to the courts, but if it can be proven, the courts will need to verify the plaintiff does have legal rights to the property and that the defendant does not to proceed.

How Can I Prepare for an Unlawful Detainer Case?

It is essential to prove that you have legal rights to the home and that the future defendant does not. This legal proof can be established through title, deed, or trust paperwork that clearly states your name, not the defendant’s.

Document thoroughly that you have not received rent from this person. Proof can also be documented through various text messages, voicemails, or emails stating that you wish to remove the other person from your home and that they have not paid rent while they stayed with you.

Documentation of repeated requests that the person leaves your home can also be helpful. This documentation can establish a pattern easily seen by the courts that you have attempted to rectify this situation and now need legal assistance.

How Can An Attorney Help Me?

Though these cases may seem straightforward, they can be challenging as the original living arrangement is typically made with someone you have or once had a personal connection with. It could be an ex-romantic partner, a family member you were helping, or a friend you were looking out for temporarily but now taking advantage of you.

An experienced attorney can help ensure you are readily prepared for an unlawful detainer case, have filled out your paperwork efficiently, and more. They can provide sound advice from a legal perspective as to what your options are and what strategies you may consider before pursuing a legal process.

They can assist you in negotiations that may alleviate having to proceed with an unlawful detainer case. If this doesn’t help or isn’t a viable option, they can represent you in court.

Contact our office at (407) 426-7222 to learn how we can best assist you in preserving your rights.