How To Evict A Tenant (Part 5) - The
This is Part Five of the How To Evict A Tenant In
Understanding The Proper Jurisdiction In Which To File The
Simple Eviction Action
If the tenant fails to timely respond to the 3 day eviction notice
(i.e., the tenant does not pay the past due rent nor does he or she vacate the premises), the landlord is entitled
to sue the tenant. At that time, the landlord has the option of bringing one of two action. First, the landlord can
sue the tenant solely for possession of the rental property. In that event, the County Court has exclusive
jurisdiction over the case and the case must be filed therein.
Simple Eviction Summons
The civil action summons that is appropriate in this simple
eviction action seeking only possession of the real property is found in Form 1.923. This form provides that the
tenant has five days to respond to the eviction complaint:
EVICTION SUMMONS / RESIDENTIAL
TO: ______________ [Insert the Name and Address of the
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
You are being sued by ______________________ [Insert the Name of
the Plaintiff] to require you to move out of the place where you are living for the reasons given in the attached
You are entitled to a trial to determine whether you can be
required to move, but you MUST do ALL of the things listed below. You must do them within 5 days (not including
Saturday, Sunday, or any legal holiday) after the date these papers were given to you or to a person who lives with
you or were posted at your home.
THE THINGS YOU MUST DO ARE AS FOLLOWS:
(1) Write down the reason(s) why you think you should not be
forced to move. The written reason(s) must be given to the clerk of the court at _________________ [Insert the
County] County Courthouse, ______________________ [Insert the City], Florida __________ [Insert the Zip
(2) Mail or give a copy of your written reason(s) to:
__________________________ [Insert the Name and Address of the
Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s Attorney].
(3) Pay to the clerk of the court the amount of rent that the
attached complaint claims to be due and any rent that becomes due until the lawsuit is over. If you believe that
the amount claimed in the complaint is incorrect, you should file with the clerk of the court a motion to have the
court determine the amount to be paid. If you file a motion, you must attach to the motion any documents supporting
your position and mail or give a copy of the motion to the plaintiff/plaintiff’s attorney.
(4) If you file a motion to have the court determine the amount of
rent to be paid to the clerk of the court, you must immediately contact the office of the judge to whom the case is
assigned to schedule a hearing to decide what amount should be paid to the clerk of the court while the lawsuit is
IF YOU DO NOT DO ALL OF THE THINGS SPECIFIED ABOVE WITHIN 5
WORKING DAYS AFTER THE DATE THAT THESE PAPERS WERE GIVEN TO YOU OR TO A PERSON WHO LIVES WITH YOU OR WERE POSTED AT
YOUR HOME, YOU MAY BE EVICTED WITHOUT A HEARING OR FURTHER NOTICE
THE STATE OF FLORIDA:
To Each Sheriff of the State: You are commanded to serve this
summons and a copy of the complaint in this lawsuit on the above-named defendant.
DATED on ____________________ [Insert Date On Which the Summons Is
Clerk of the County Court
As Deputy Clerk
Simple Eviction Service of Process
Where the landlord is suing the tenant for only possession the
property, service of process can be accomplished by either personal delivery by the sheriff or a licensed process
server, or by posting the summons and complaint at a conspicuous place on the premises. However, unlike service of
the 3 day eviction notice, prior to being permitted to post the summons and complaint, the licensed process server
must make at least two attempts to personally serve the tenant, with each attempt being at least six hours
Moreover, when the lawsuit is filed with the Clerk of Court, the
landlord must also give the Clerk a duplicate copy of the initial pleadings for each defendant being served. The
landlord must also provide the Clerk with self-addressed, postage prepaid envelopes. Thereafter, the Clerk of Court
must mail the pleadings (including the summons and the complaint) to each of the defendant and is further required
make a note in the Court docket certifying that the documents were mailed as well as indicating the date of such
Hybrid Eviction Action
The landlord can also sue the tenant for both possession of the
property as well as for monetary damages seeking to collect the outstanding rent. This type of eviction action is
also commonly referred to as a “hybrid eviction action.” If the landlord elects to file a hybrid eviction action,
the case must be initiated in the Court that has the appropriate monetary jurisdictional limits. As a result, if
the hybrid action seeks monetary damages exceeding $15,000.00, the action must be filed in Circuit Court; if it
seeks monetary damages not exceeding $15,000.00, the action is only appropriate in County Court.
Hybrid Eviction Summons
When the landlord is serving a hybrid complaint, the only real
difference is the inclusion of the following paragraph in the summons.
(5) If the attached complaint also contains a claim for money
damages (such as unpaid rent), you must respond to that claim separately. You must write down the reasons why you
believe that you do not owe the money claimed. The written reasons must be given to the clerk of the court at the
address specified in paragraph (1) above, and you must mail or give a copy of your written reasons to the
plaintiff/plaintiff’s attorney at the address specified in paragraph (2) above. This must be done within 20 days
after the date these papers were given to you or to a person who lives with you. This obligation is separate from
the requirement of answering the claim for eviction within 5 working days after these papers were given to you or
to a person who lives with you or were posted at your home.
Of course, this additional paragraph has the effect of affording
the tenant twenty days to respond to the money damages part of the hybrid complaint.
Hybrid Eviction Service of Process
Like a simple eviction complaint, the hybrid complaint can be
personally served or posted (assuming the process server or sheriff complies with the posting requirements set
forth above). However, the big difference is that if the service of process is accomplished through posting, the
landlord will not be entitled to an award of monetary damages. Accordingly, if the landlord is serious about
collecting the past due rent, the landlord should never permit the service of process of a hybrid complaint to be
made through posting.
An interesting wrinkle also occurs when a landlord files an action
in County Court and is faced with a counterclaim by the tenant claiming monetary damages in excess of the County
Court’s jurisdiction (i.e., exceeding $15,000.00). In that case, the County Court, upon finding that the tenant’s
counterclaim is filed in good faith and is not a sham, must transfer the whole case to the Circuit
Landlord’s Use of the Expedited Summary Procedure
Florida Statute § 83.59(2) provides, in pertinent part, that the
“landlord is entitled to the summary procedure provided in s. 51.011, and the court shall advance the cause on the
calendar.” Generally speaking, Florida Statute § 51.011 provides that eviction matters are entitled to expedited
treatment and, as a result, is a great benefit to the landlord seeking to evict their tenant.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This article is written based on the current
status of Florida’s landlord tenant laws. However, this article is for general knowledge only and is not intended,
in any way whatever, to constitute legal advice. Prior to following any recommendations listed in this article,
please consult an attorney duly licensed in your state, preferably an eviction attorney who is well versed in the
Florida eviction process.
Additional Articles In This Series Can Be Found As
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 1) can be reached by
clicking this link: An Overview of Landlord Tenant Law;
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 2): 3
Day Eviction Notice;
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 3): Tenants Rights And The 3 Day Eviction
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 4): Tenant Service of the 3 Day Eviction
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 5): The Eviction Complaint.