With its many seasonal residents, it is unfortunately common for property owners here in the Sunshine State to find someone living in their Florida vacation home. But what to do when that happens? Fortunately, Florida law offers some solutions to removing the squatter by either an Unlawful Detainer Action (Fla. Stat. 82) or an Ejectment Action (Fla. Stat. 66). Both of these actions are distinctly different than an Eviction Action (Fla. Stat. 83) because both actions specifically apply against a person or persons who are enjoying the use of a property and are not subject to a lease and who do not pay rent or contribute to the property upkeep and expenses. Eviction Actions apply where a landlord-tenant relationship exists, commonly through a lease agreement.
Determining the correct cause of action to give a squatter the boot can be very tedious and confusing. If the property owner gets it wrong, the case will likely get dismissed. Additionally, there may be other adverse consequences such as additional costs to refile and a claim bar if the time allotted in the statute of limitations has expired.
Overall, there are three primary distinctions between an Unlawful Detainer Action and an Ejectment Action. First, the Defendant in an Ejectment Action is claiming some right, no matter how frivolous, to the property. In an Unlawful Detainer Action there is no claim of right to the property by the Defendant.
Second, Ejectment Actions are subject to the exclusive original jurisdiction of Florida’s circuit courts. In contrast, Unlawful Detainer Actions generally fall under subject-matter jurisdiction of Florida’s county courts. The latter includes being subject to the county court’s amount-in-controversy limits.
Additionally, an Unlawful Detainer Action, like an Eviction Action, is afforded the benefits of summary procedure. That is to say that it is an expedited process to get rid of a squatter. However, an action for Ejectment does not receive the benefit of the summary procedure process. This is mainly due to the inherent complexities in determining title and rights to the property. Therefore, an Ejectment Action is usually more costly than and time consuming than an Unlawful Detainer or an Eviction Action.
This may seem straight forward and there is certainly an abundance of information and forms online. But the difference between these different causes of action may be very slight and can turn on a single fact or a multitude of variables. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the advice of qualified legal counsel.
If you are having issues with unwanted people on your property, Boatman Ricci is here to advise and assist you. The attorneys at Boatman Ricci can help you protect your rights and property. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation at (239) 330-1494 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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