What is an Unlawful Detainer and What is Required to File One?

An unlawful detainer is a legal process that is used to remove an individual from your property when they have overstayed their welcome. This is a type of lawsuit that can be filed by a landowner to gain possession of their property again. Unlawful detainer is typically used when there is no established landlord – tenant relationship. A common scenario is when you have allowed a friend, significant other, or family member to stay at your home for free, but they are now refusing to leave.  An unlawful detainer is a county court lawsuit that is filed pursuant to Florida Statute Chapter 82. 

Requirements under Chapter 82:

  • You have a legal right to reside in the home 
  • There is no tenant/landlord or lease agreement between the parties 
  • There is no sort of agreement of paying rent between the parties, either written or verbally

What does the unlawful detainer process look like?

First, you must give written notice to the person you would like to remove from your home. You should deliver this notice to the individual or place it in a communal area that the individual frequents. If the individual still refuses to leave you now may file an Unlawful Detainer complaint against them. The individual refusing to leave must be served with a Summons and the Complaint. After being served, the individual has five (5) working days to respond to the complaint. If the individual does not respond the court may have the authority to remove the individual from your home. If the individual does respond, a hearing may be held in order for each party to state their case and their proposed ownership interest in the home. 

When is an unlawful detainer lawsuit useful? 

An unlawful detainer lawsuit is often useful when you have allowed someone to stay on your property without a lease agreement, and often without any sort of payment in return. In these types of situations the traditional eviction process would not apply because there was no lease agreement between the parties. 

What is the difference between unlawful detainer and ejectment? 

An unlawful detainer and ejectment might seem similar, but there is a distinct difference between the two. In an unlawful detainer scenario, the person who has overstayed their welcome does not have any claim to the property. This means that the person was simply staying there and using your property without payment or anything in return. In an ejectment scenario, the person whom the action is being enforced against has an assertion of rights over the property. This means that the person believes that they have interest in the property for reasons such as making improvements to the property, or making payments.  

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Founding partner Eric Gros-Dubois established EPGD Business Law in 2013. With over a decade of experience expanding the firm and leading it to its current success, Eric now primarily manages the corporate division of EPGD. Given Eric’s educational background, holding both a JD and MBA, combined with his own unique experience of starting a business from scratch and growing it to a multi-million dollar firm, he brings a specialized and invaluable perspective to those seeking legal assistance for themselves and their businesses. Having now instilled his same values in our team of skilled corporate associates, Eric leads a firm that is always ready, willing, and equipped to handle any and every legal matter that a business owner may have.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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