Can you legally remove unwanted house guests?

Florida law offers several options

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Inviting a guest or partner into your home should be a pleasant experience, but it can get tricky when things take a turn for the worse and that guest refuses to leave.

Florida law offers some options for removing unwanted house guests depending on the agreement in place.

The information below, provided by LakelandLaw.com, outlines different methods of legally removing an unwanted guest.

Eviction

Eviction is the appropriate path when two people enter into a landlord-tenant relationship and the occupant fails to pay rent or breaks the lease in another way. First, the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice letting the tenant know that they've failed to pay rent. That notice must meet certain legal requirements, otherwise eviction proceedings can be delayed.

Once that notice has been delivered, the tenant has three days to either pay the money owed or leave the home. If the renter refuses to do either, then the landlord may file an eviction complaint with the court, which will then be served to the tenant, who will have five days to answer it.

If no reply is received, the landlord can ask for a default judgment, which will pave the way for the court to restore possession of property to the homeowner.

If the tenant wishes defend themselves against the complaint, they must pay the owed rent into the registry of the court, otherwise the landlord is entitled to a default judgment.

Unlawful detainer

An unlawful detainer is used when the person living in the home never formally entered into a lease with the homeowner and has no legal right to the home. Examples of this type of situation would be a guest who has outstayed their welcome or a former significant other who refuses to leave after a break up.

An unlawful detainer request can be filed in the court without giving the person advance notice. Once that document is filed, the unwanted guest will need to respond within five days.

Ejectment

Ejectment is used in a similar situation as unlawful detainer where there is no formal landlord-tenant relationship with the main distinction being that in this case, the person who is being evicted claims some sort of possession or entitlement to the property. The ejectment process is the most complicated, costly and lengthy of the three procedures.

The action for ejectment must be filed in circuit court and the plaintiff in the case must prove title or ownership of the property.

Experts say that all three processes can be difficult to navigate and major delays could be caused if there are any errors in the proceedings, so consulting with an attorney is always recommended.