Landlord & Tenant

What Is An Unlawful Detainer?


If someone is on your property and they do not have a lease and they are not legally supposed to be there, you need to file an action for unlawful detainer under Chapter 82. You must own the property or have constructive possession of the property to remove someone who obtained possession through forcible entry, unlawful entry, or unlawful detention. If you win, you can recover possession of your property and damages, including attorney fees. (Florida Statutes 82.03). If you have a residential lease you cannot proceed with an unlawful detailer action under chapter 82. Rather, you would need to seek an action for eviction. 

Landlord/Tenant litigation can be overwhelming. If you don’t have an experienced litigation attorney, you may find yourself broke and homeless, or in the alternative, you may lose your property to a squatter – rent free.  

At the Horton Law Group, we treat our clients like family. We are actively involved in the community, and we are well respected in the courtroom. We maintain professional relationships with our clients long after their cases are resolved. We are confident that you will be happy with your decision to hire the Horton Law Group to represent you during this difficult time. 

Please contact the Horton Law Group, P.A. at 561-299-0018 or email to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a qualified member from our team.

How long does an unlawful detainer action take?

  • Prior to filing suit, a property owner, should give notice to the person in the property to vacate within 5 days. Florida law does not specifically require that the property owner provide the occupant with notice to vacate prior to filing suit but it should be done because if they leave, litigation becomes unnecessary. It should be noted this is completely different in the world of evictions, wherein, pre-suite notices are mandatory. If the person will not leave, we file suit. 
  • File the lawsuit and get the Summons issued by the Clerk of Court (this usually takes 1 week). Once the 5 days-notice period expires, we will prepare the unlawful detainer papers, file them with the Court (after your approval, of course), submit the Summons to the clerk for issuance and once issued have the process server, serve the Defendant with the lawsuit. The Summons provides the Defendant with clear instructions and timelines on how to defend themselves should they choose to do so.
  • Once served, the Defendant can default or file a responsive pleading. The response period following service of the lawsuit is 5 days. If the Defendant fails to respond a default will be issued and after a Default Judgment is entered, they will be removed. This process is usually less expensive and much quicker as it is uncontested. Depending on what the Defendant files will dictate how long the case will be. This is why you should have an experienced lawyer in your corner to help you navigate through the short, yet complex, Florida landlord tenant code. 
  • Final Judgment. If there is a Default and the unlawful detainer action is uncontested the process can conclude in less than 30 days. Once a Default is issued, we can have the Judge issue a Final Judgment granting you possession and have a Writ of Possession issued. Once the Final Judgment is executed signed and the Writ of Possession issued, it is delivered to the Sheriff’s office to serve. The Sheriff’s office will then serve the Defendant. This can take between 2 days – 2 weeks depending on how backed up the Sheriff’s office is, this varies county by county. 

The attorneys at the Horton Law Group, P.A. are aggressive and experienced and will fight for your rights. Please contact the Horton Law Group, P.A. at 561-299-0018 or email to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a qualified member from our team.

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