Three Types of Lawsuits
Attorney Will W. Sunter
Will focuses his practice on litigation with an emphasis on civil, real property and probate matters as well as guardianship.
Many times, I have been asked the above question. Most clients believe that the simple and only answer is an eviction. Often removing someone from the premises goes beyond an eviction. Outlined below are the three main types of lawsuits to remove someone from your property:
- Eviction. This is most common and what most people think of first when removing someone from the premises. An eviction is based on a written or verbal lease. By virtue of a lease, the tenant has the right to remain on the premises. The landlord only has the right to remove the tenant if the lease has expired or if the tenant is in violation of the terms of the lease. The most common violation of the terms of the lease is failure to pay rent. Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, provides for the manner in which to remove a tenant that does not comply with a lease. This is governed by an accelerated trial docket called Summary Procedure. Normally, a trial can be held in less than 60 days.
- Unlawful Detainer/Forcible Entry. This situation is different from an eviction. Ordinarily, this occurs when an owner of a property allows a guest to remain on the premises for an indefinite period of time. The quintessential case is a mother or father who allows a child to remain on their property until the child gets his or her legs underneath them. Problems arise when that child refuses to leave the premises.An unlawful detainer occurs when a person who did have the right to be on the premises has overstayed their welcome and has refused to leave. The person’s permission to be on the premises is not predicated on a lease agreement, so the person remaining on the premises does not have to pay any rent to remain there. Alternatively, a forcible entry occurs when a person has no invitation but has resided on the premises. Southwest Florida has seen many forcible entry actions against people squatting in houses during their foreclosures. Both unlawful detainer and forcible entry actions are governed under Summary Procedure discussed above.
- Ejectment. An ejectment action is similar to an unlawful detainer/forcible entry action. Both cases involve a person who is residing on the premises but does not have a leasehold agreement with the owner to be on the premises. The difference between the ejectment and the forcible entry/unlawful detainer is that an ejectment action is predicated on some right, title, or interest in the property. In a forcible entry or unlawful detainer action, the person residing on the premises solely has possession. In an ejectment action, the person living on the premises says they have a legal claim to the property. An ejectment action needs to be filed in Circuit Court and is not governed by Summary Procedure (which means it does not go very quickly).
Navigating the different types of causes of action necessary to remove someone from your premises can be difficult and confusing. I strongly recommend that you consult legal counsel to assist you in navigating these property issues.
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