As a commercial real estate or residential property owner, you know that there might be times when you need to remove someone from your property. But do you know the difference between ejectment vs eviction? Whether it’s a tenant or a stranger makes a difference for the legal approach you take. Unlike unlawful detainer actions, which mostly apply to family, friends, significant others, and other non-contractual residents that need to be removed from the property, eviction and ejectment actions can be more complicated.
Let’s use the following scenario as an example:
Let’s say you recently went to check on one of your rental units to get it ready for a showing. A couple is interested in looking at it and possibly renting from you for years to come. They have a stable income, have only positive references from previous landlords, and are friends of a current tenant who always pays on time and hasn’t had a single complaint against him.
In short, they are ideal tenants.
Unfortunately, when you open the door of your rental unit, you discover someone living there without your permission. When you confront them and tell them to move out, they refuse and lock the door. Instead of consulting with an attorney about the best course of action, you decide to file for an eviction. After weeks of waiting, potential tenants lose interest and rent from a competitor. To add insult to injury, the judge dismisses your case.
Weeks after finding the stranger living on your property, you are no closer to regaining possession of the unit. Let me break down why your attempt failed by explaining the difference between ejectment vs eviction.
When you filed for an eviction, you started the legal process by setting yourself up for failure. Found in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes, evictions deal primarily with tenants who have a written or oral rental agreement with a landlord. The most common reason that landlords evict their tenants is because of non-payment of rent, though other instances do occur. Because the person occupying your rental unit does not have a rental agreement with you and is not paying rent, you cannot legally evict them.
Had you consulted with an attorney before trying to take legal action against the trespasser, they would have told you that you should file for an ejectment and not an eviction. Ejectment, which can be found in Chapter 66 of the Florida Statutes, addresses occupants who are not the owner but who make a claim on the property. Whether frivolous or legitimate, the presence of a claim often complicates things for the landlord. Unlike cases of eviction, ejectments do not give landlords the right to summary procedure. In other words, ejectments can take a long time to resolve.
When it comes to ejectment vs eviction, Ejectment cases are more difficult to win in court than eviction cases. But with the right legal guidance to support you, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Need help deciding whether you need ejectment vs eviction?
Need to get rid of a non-paying occupant of one of your properties? Let HLF Real Estate Law handle it for you.