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Landlord Tenant Basics: Part I
What Happens If I Do Not Pay My Rent On Time?
If you do not pay your rent by the due date, your landlord may give you a written Three (3) Day Notice. The Three Day Notice will give you three days to pay the rent owed or move out. The notice should clearly state how much money is owed. The three day period may not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays. Your landlord may hand deliver, post the notice on your door, or mail the notice to you. If you receive a Three Day Notice by mail, the landlord must give you an additional five (5) days to comply with the notice due to mailing time.
If your landlord files an Eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent, you will be served with a Summons and Complaint for Eviction. You will have five (5) business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) to respond to the Complaint. Please note that your five days begin the day after you were served.
Your response to the Complaint is called an Answer. In the Answer, you will have the opportunity to admit or deny the allegations contained in the Complaint. Your original Answer must be filed with the Court and a copy must be mailed to your Landlord. Under Florida law, you must deposit your rent money into the Court Registry while your case is pending review by the Judge. Please note that if you disagree with the amount that the landlord is demanding, you may file a Motion to Determine Rent. In your Motion to Determine Rent, you must explain to the Judge why you disagree with the amount owed and provide proof to the Court that you owe the landlord a different amount. The Judge will review your Motion to Determine Rent and the landlord's Complaint and Notices. The Judge will then issue an Order stating how much you should deposit into the Court Registry.
Once the money is deposited into the Court Registry, the Judge will set a hearing to give both parties the opportunity to tell their side of the story. If you win at the hearing, you will continue to pay rent under your current lease and remain in possession of the rental unit.
What happens if I do not file an Answer?
If you fail to file an Answer with the Court, the Judge will enter a Default Judgment against you. Once the Default Judgment is entered against you, the landlord can request a Writ of Possession. A Writ of Possession gives you 24 hours to remove all of your belongings from the rental unit. If you fail to remove all of your belongings from the rental unit, they will be removed for you and may be damaged.
What should you do if you have received a Three Day Notice?
- Pay your landlord any past due rent that you think you owe.
- If you are unable to pay all of the money owed, ask your landlord to make payment arrangements.
What steps should you take if you have been served with a Complaint for Tenant Eviction?
- File your response within five days of receiving the Court documents. Don't forget to mail a copy of your response to the landlord or landlord's attorney.
- If you dispute the amount that the landlord says you owe, you may also file a Motion to Determine Rent. In your motion, you need to state what reasons or evidence you have that proves you owe a different amount.
- If you want to stay in your home, try talking to your landlord about repayment of the past due rent.
- Most importantly, you should attend all court hearings and mediation.
IMPORTANT: The information on this website is not intended as legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship is created between the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. and any person obtaining information from this website. Public benefits and other laws change frequently. We strive to keep this website up to date but cannot provide a guarantee that this information is accurate as of the time you are reading it.