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How to Evict a Roommate in Florida

It usually starts out well enough. A couple of friends decided to become roommates to share expenses or a friend asked to move in because he or she needed a place to stay. Things were fine for awhile, but after time, they started to go downhill and now it's time for the roommate to leave. Except he or she won't. So what to do now? How is a roommate evicted in Florida?


Evicting a Florida Roommate is Tricky

As living expenses rise, more people are living together as a way to save money. As a result, more people are discovering that living with a roommate is not all it's cracked up to be. Some roommates want to party all night.


Others think house rules apply to everyone but them. As obnoxious as a roommate might be, though, getting rid of him or her depends on a number of factors.

Is the Roommate on the Lease?

If the roommate is on the lease, then the only person with the authority to kick him or her out is the landlord, but even a landlord needs a legally valid reason to throw someone out if that person is on the lease. These reasons usually include not paying rent, using the home for illegal purposes or otherwise breaking the terms of the lease in some way.

The exception to this is if the roommate is threatening or violent toward others in the home. If this is the case, then a court can issue a restraining order and the family member must leave immediately.

It's worth remembering that a roommate on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the rental space as anyone elsoe on the lease.

Now What?

Unfortunately for people in Florida, the options are limited if the roommate is on the lease. Nicely asking him or her to leave is an option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the roommate signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then he probably cannot be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court.

Examples might include the roommate having loud parties that prevent other roommates from getting work done or the roommate not paying his or her share of the utilities.

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk is that suing may anger the roommate but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the roommate to budge might be an option, but most landlords are content to leave things be as long as they are getting their rent and their property is not being damaged.

An exception would be if the landlord sees that the roommate is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or has a dog when pets are specifically forbidden in the lease.


This is tricky, though, because the roommate could claim that the dog belongs to everyone and the landlord could decide to evict everyone in the home. In Florida, this is particularly true if the lease has a joint and/or several liability clause, which essentially means that all the tenants on a lease can be held responsible for what other tenants do.

The landlord might be a reasonable person (or corporation), though, and decide to evict only the roommate. If this is the case, understand that it will take time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving a roommate notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.

For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the roommate has a dog and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the roommate adequate time to find the dog a new home. If the roommate does this, then he or she cannot be evicted. He or she can stay in the home and chances are he or she will not be a happy camper.

It is possible, too, that the roommate may just ignore the eviction notice and decide to stay in the home. In this case, the landlord will have to go to court to ask a judge to tell the roommate to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the roommate out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the roommate can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a Florida Roommate

No matter how obnoxious a roommmate is, there are things that the state of Florida says cannot be legally done to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, he cannot be threatened or his personal property hidden. The locks cannot be changed so that he cannot access the home. Anyone who does these things could end up looking at criminal charges. No roommate is worth that.

Is the Roommate Not on the Lease?

If the roommate is not on the lease then there are more options for getting rid of him or her.

This can be tricky, too, though. If the roommate is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then the other people in the home might be the ones breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


If, though, the roommate has the landlord's express or implicit permission - many landlords will let a girlfriend or boyfriend stay in the home without signing the lease, or they will turn a blind eye to an extra tenant - then the roommate is considered a subletter with a sublease and can be evicted.

This is because while Florida only lets landlords file eviction lawsuits, it also defines a landlord as someone who is leasing a property. So if one person is on the lease but another roommate is not, then the one on the lease is considered a landlord and can file an eviction lawsuit against another roommate.


There are rules to follow, though. Florida requires that the roommate receive at least three days notice to find a new place to live and move out if the roommate has not paid rent. He or she must receive seven days' notice if he or she has broken some other part of the sublease. If the roommate has a month-to-month agreement, then he or she must receive 15 days' notice to leave the home.

The notice must be handed to the roommate, and he or she should receive a notice via certified mail so proof exists that he or she received it.

If the roommate ignores the eviction notice, then a Summons and a Complaint can be filed with the local county clerk. If the roommate does not respond to the Summons and Complaint within five days, then a "clerk’s motion" is needed to have the court evict him. This means going to court.

In court, the evictor must present a clear case and present all relevant documentation. The evictor must also prepared to be stuck with the roommate and have to pay his legal costs if he wins the case.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a roommate in Florida is not easy. Evicting anyone anywhere is not easy, even for landlords with solid legal grounds. It is a complicated, contentious and often costly endeavor.

Get Help

Ask a Florida Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, it is time to evict a roommate, then it is a good idea to talk to an experienced Florida eviction lawyer before proceeding. One small misstep could mean the obnoxious roommate is not the only one having to look for a new home.



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