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Real Property Claim for Ejectment in Florida
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Real Property Claim for Ejectment in Florida

October 16, 2017 Real Estate Development, Sales and Leasing Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sometimes it is necessary to remove someone from your property. There are a number of legal theories that involve someone entering upon real property and the claim that a landowner ultimately asserts depends on the relationship it has with the actor.  A person with no right to real property who enters upon the land is guilty of a trespass.  The mere act of entering the land without permission is the trespass.  It is a crime and also can lead to a civil action in the event the trespasser causes any damage.  Eviction is the legal method of removing a tenant. A tenant is someone who is paying rent and/or who has a lease and otherwise legal right to enter the land that and that right has expired or been breached.  They are removed with an eviction.  Ejectment is the legal method of removing someone who is not a tenant, in other words, usually someone who is staying without a lease and not paying rent to the landlord. Ejectment is a statutory cause of action and can be found in Chapter 66, Florida Statutes.

The process by which an action in ejectment follows is the filing of a complaint in ejectment to which the defendant has 20 days to file an answer.  In an action for ejectment, which must be filed in circuit court, the Plaintiff must “deraign” (prove) that he/she/it has valid title to the subject premises in the complaint. If they do not file an answer, the Plaintiff proceeds with a motion for default. Once the default is entered by the court, a final judgment will be issued by the court ordering the person to leave the premises. If they do not leave the property, then a writ of possession will be issued to the sheriff and they will come to the premises and remove the person for you.  If they do file an answer to the complaint, a hearing will be set assuming they have followed the proper procedures set forth in the complaint. After a hearing (which they will ultimately lose, as there are little or no defenses to a properly pleaded complaint) the court will issue a final judgment and order the person to leave your real property.

In order to file for ejectment there must not be any likeness to a landlord-tenant relationship. Additionally, ejectments typically involve situations where there may be some underlying dispute related to the occupants position that they have some sort of entitlement to possession of the property, say for instance when a family member is staying in property that has been bequeathed in a will or estate administration to someone else and refuses to leave or acknowledge the transfer.

Ejectment is sometimes appropriate where a new homeowner buys real property at a foreclosure auction, and the occupants of the property are the former owners. Sometimes, however, in situations where a party refuses to leave a certain premises, the refusal is predicated upon some claim, whether frivolous or meritorious, that said person has some interest in the property that transcends mere “possession”.  Situations when a neighbor has installed a fence line that encroached on a property owners land and the owner of the fence refuses to remove the fence.  The ensuring dispute will be resolved through the ejectment process.  An understanding of property rights and how to use the legal system to remove people is an important aspect of real property ownership in Florida.

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