When you get home and find an eviction alert at the door, you may be scared, upset, angry, or a little of all three. This can be a challenging situation if you live in Florida, which has very favorable laws for landlords. Don’t try to panic because you need to take immediate action. You only have 3 days to request to move out, otherwise the host can win by default. Keep this in mind and find out if other options, such as negotiating with a lawyer or filing for bankruptcy, work best in your situation.
The answer to the complaint
Read the question carefully. The complaint tells you why you were fired and the money the owner says you owe. It also tells you where to answer.
The most common reasons for a tenant to evict a tenant are non-payment of the lease or non-compliance with the lease agreement. For example, if the lease stipulates that animals are not allowed in your area and you have a dog, the landlord will evict you.
You have 3 days from the date of receipt of the complaint. If assigned to your family, you have 3 days from that date. If the third day falls on a weekend or holiday, you have until Monday or the next holiday.
Think about how you can defend yourself.
If the landlord does not follow the proper procedure before you are fired or if you believe you have been fired for unauthorized reasons, you can defend yourself.
For example, a landlord may claim to have fired you for non-payment of rent. However, you have reason to believe that the landlord expelled you for retaliation because you called the health department to complain about the safety of the unsafe building.
If you want to get fired, you must also follow all legal procedures. That means giving an answer within 3 days and saving the court.
Consult a lawyer.
When a relocation complaint is sent to you, you do not have much time to respond. But at least it’s best to talk to a lawyer about what protection you might have.
If you’re financial situation is difficult, contact the Florida Bar Association at 1-800-342-8011. Ask the clerk to contact the panel at a low price. They will ask questions about your financial situation and let you know if you meet the requirements.
Most transfer agents provide a free first referral, so you can at least use it to get advice about your case, even if you don’t hire a lawyer.
Write down your written answer.
Your written response to the complaint will be your first such response in court. It will let your landlord know that you intend to fight an eviction and list any protective measures you claim are related to your case. 
Florida Legal Law Firm has an online version, if you write your own answers without the help of a lawyer, you can use it to create your answers. Go to https://www.floridalaarsep.org/node/248/form-pro-se-eviction-answer to get started.
File your answer.
When you complete your answer, sign it and make two copies. Take the original and a copy to the office of the court where the complaint was made. See the top of the claim to find the name of the court.
The clerk will present your original documents to the court and return a copy to you. One copy is for your own control and the other must be given to the owner.
When you submit your response, the Registrar can schedule a court hearing called an “Unlawful Detainee”. Hearings are normally held 2-3 weeks after the response is submitted.
Keep unpaid rent in court.
Florida law requires that all unpaid rent be deposited with the court, as well as any other dues. If you want to fight eviction, you can’t miss this step.
If you do not pay any rent or other fees to the court, the landlord will end up in default and lose any right of defense that may arise.
Submit a claim if you have a dispute about your rent.
You have a choice if your landlord says you owe more taxes and taxes than you think you have. You can ask the court to find out how much your landlord owes you.
If you write this with your answer, you will still have to pay the amount you agreed with your landlord. These cases usually cannot be zero.
The judge can hear the case differently from your motion, or they can resolve it in your expulsion case. Make sure you do not have as much money as the landlord has promised. You may have proof to support your claim, such as bills for rent.
Give it to your landlord.
Once you have requested the answers, you must send them to the owner or lawyer. You can hire a self-employed police officer or a private process officer to help you with your answers or you can send it using proof of delivery along with the return form.
If your landlord has a lawyer representing you, you need to send them the answers. The complaint form will contain their name and address.
Organize your documents and evidence.
You only have one court meeting, so you must bring with you everything you want the judge to consider. What you bring depends on the defense you are raising and what the judge wants you to know.
For example, if you claim that your unit or building is unsafe, you should take pictures in unsafe conditions to show the judge.
Go to court for your hearing.
Arrive in court at least half an hour before your scheduled hearing. This will give you enough time to get through security and find the right courtroom.
Wear clean, conservative clothes, as if attending a job interview. When you find a courtroom, stay in the gallery until your name is called. Then you can get up and move on.
Usually, the judge will hear the landlord first and then you will have a chance to explain why you should not be evicted. At this time, you can submit any evidence you have.
In addition to physical evidence, you can also bring witnesses who will testify in your defense. For example, if you claim that you did not pay taxes due to unsafe conditions, you can bring your neighbors to testify about those conditions.
If your landlord wins, the judge will judge the property. You have 24 hours to go alone. After that time, the sheriff may come and close the door, forcing him to leave.
“Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. This is an informational article only.”
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