Lawsuit – an action commenced by a plaintiff in a court that seeks a remedy, legal or equitable, against a defendant.
Cause of Action – each individual claim made in a document called a complaint that starts the lawsuit.
Damages – the monetary values of losses a Landlord suffers from a tenant’s actions and inactions, including but not limited to, rent due but unpaid, destructive damages to the rental property, and unpaid late fees.
Judgement – the document that concludes a litigants’ right in a lawsuit, which can be executed or collected upon, which may be applicable to a cause of action or the entire lawsuit.
Execution – a legal term that refers to the official enforcement of a court document such as a judgment or a writ, often enforced by the Sheriff or Police.
Landlord – the personal or company that owns or has an equity interest in rental property and leases the rental property to a tenant. A Property Manager is not a Landlord but may act on behalf of the Landlord’s interests.
Tenant – a person or company that agrees to rent a rental property from a Landlord.
Sub-Tenant – a person or company who rents a rental property from a Tenant.
Eviction Summons – legal document issued by the Clerk of Court when Complaint for Eviction is filed, places tenant on notice of 5 business days to respond to Complaint for Eviction or be subject to Default Judgment and to post rent money into the Court Registry of the Clerk of Court.
Complaint for Eviction – legal document filed with the Clerk of Court that starts the lawsuit, served on the tenant by the Process Server at the same time as the Eviction Summons.
Hearing – a formal proceeding wherein the landlord, through their attorney, and the tenant, and their attorney if they have one, go before the judge and argue a motion and the judge hears the issues and evidence and makes a ruling or signs an Order.
Order – ruling by the judge in a case that is reduced to writing, and can include a Final Judgment for Eviction Order.
Issuance – legal term meaning “to make effective” such as the Clerk of Court issuing a Summons or a Writ of Possession after the Final Judgment for Eviction Order is entered by the judge, so that the Summons or Writ of Possession become valid or effective.
Clerk of Court – technically separate from the courts or the judge, but an integral part of the judicial system, it is the department that maintains the official court records and files for all eviction cases.
Court Registry – department within the Clerk of Court that accepts deposits of rent by tenants.
Final Judgment for Eviction Order – final ruling or order in the case by the judge that finally determines that the landlord prevails in the case and the tenant is ordered to vacate the rental property, and directs the Clerk of Court to Issue a Writ of Possession.
Writ of Possession – legal paper that is Issued by the Clerk of Court that directs the Sheriff to perform the Sheriff Removal.
Sheriff Removal – formal process wherein the Sheriff first posts a 24 hour notice on the subject rental property that advises the tenant that after 24 hours, and it can and usually is significantly more than 24 hours, the Sheriff will return to force the removal of the tenants from the rental property.
Tenant Abandonment – when the tenant has voluntarily vacated the rental property, which unless the landlord has actual knowledge of abandonment, then the landlord may deem the tenant to have abandoned the rental property if the tenants have been absent from the property for at least 15 days and the tenant has unpaid rent and the landlord does not have any knowledge about the tenant’s whereabouts.
Distress Writ – writ Issued by the Clerk of Court after the landlord posts a bond that prohibits the tenant from moving property out of the rental property, which is used to enforce the Landlord’s Lien.
Landlord’s Lien – a landlord has an automatic statutory lien upon all property the tenant places on or in the rental property.
Property Manager – a person or company hired by a Landlord to be responsible for the rental property such as to collect and enforcing the collection of rents, coordinate the making of repairs, and providing accountings for the rental property.
Motion – a legal proceeding wherein the landlord, usually through their attorney, as well as the tenant, with their attorney if they have one, go before the judge and argue a Motion so that the judge will enter an order.
Final Hearing/Trial – a Hearing that is the last one in the case wherein evidence is presented as to why the tenant should be evicted, and the tenant has an opportunity to defend and explain why they should not be evicted.
Mediation – informal meeting typically conducted at the courthouse for eviction cases wherein the landlord, through their attorney, and the tenant, and their attorney if they have one, meet together with a neutral person called a mediator for the purpose of trying to resolve the case.
Settlement Stipulation – an agreement, that is contractually binding, between the landlord and the tenant that calls for the tenant to either vacate the rental property at an agreed upon date or to remain in the rental property and make payments to the landlord at times and in amounts agreed upon; however, if tenant does not comply with the Settlement Stipulation then the landlord is entitled to an automatic Final Judgment for Eviction Order and issuance of a Writ of Possession upon the filing of an affidavit of non-compliance with the Settlement Stipulation. The Settlement Stipulation is typically sent by us to the Judge to sign or ratify it. The eviction case is then closed.
Garnishment – a legal process of executing a judgment on salaries an employee owes so that the salaries can be used to pay off the judgment.
Homestead – a constitutional right to preclude a qualifying residence from execution on a judgment.
Personal Guarantee – when another person or legal entity guarantees an amount due from another, such as a tenant, under an agreement.
Contingency – where a lawyer or other business takes on the representation of a client in a manner that does not require the client to pay fees for services rendered unless an amount is collected for the client.
Process Server – person duly legally authorized by the Courts or the Sheriff to Serve legal papers upon tenants, must be legally independent from lawyers.
Serve or Service – the delivering of papers such as a Complaint or Summons on a Tenant pursuant to legally recognized methods and rules.
Default Judgment – entered by the Clerk of Court or Judge and provides that tenant has not properly or timely responded to Eviction Summons or Complaint for Eviction and gives landlord the right to a Final Judgment for Eviction against the tenant.
Answer / Response to Complaint for Eviction – response to Eviction Summons and Complaint for Eviction that is filed by the tenant that offers a response as to why the tenant should not be evicted.
Motion to Determine Rent – Motion or request filed by the tenant with the Clerk of Court that claims that the landlord’s Complaint for Eviction has the incorrect amount of rent because, for example, the computation of rent due is wrong or the tenant is entitled to a reduction of the rent due for some reason.
Order Determining Rent – order entered by the Judge that states how much rent the tenant must deposit with the Court Registry, or Default Judgment will be entered against the tenant and a Final Judgment for Eviction ordered by the judge.
Additional eviction terms definitions from Florida Statute 83.43 (2011) include:
Building, housing, and health codes means any law, ordinance, or governmental regulation concerning health, safety, sanitation or fitness for habitation, or the construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use, or appearance, of any dwelling unit.
Dwelling unit means:
- A structure or part of a structure that is rented for use as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one person or by two or more persons who maintain a common household.
- A mobile home rented by a tenant.
- A structure or part of a structure that is furnished, with or without rent, as an incident of employment for use as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one or more persons.
Landlord means the owner or lessor of a dwelling unit.
Tenant means any person entitled to occupy a dwelling unit under a rental agreement.
Premises means a dwelling unit and the structure of which it is a part and a mobile home lot and the appurtenant facilities and grounds, areas, facilities, and property held out for the use of tenants generally.
Rent means the periodic payments due the landlord from the tenant for occupancy under a rental agreement and any other payments due the landlord from the tenant as may be designated as rent in a written rental agreement.
Rental agreement” means any written agreement, including amendments or addenda, or oral agreement for a duration of less than 1 year, providing for use and occupancy of premises.
Good faith means honesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned.
Advance rent means moneys paid to the landlord to be applied to future rent payment periods, but does not include rent paid in advance for a current rent payment period.
Transient occupancy means occupancy when it is the intention of the parties that the occupancy will be temporary.
Deposit money means any money held by the landlord on behalf of the tenant, including, but not limited to, damage deposits, security deposits, advance rent deposit, pet deposit, or any contractual deposit agreed to between landlord and tenant either in writing or orally.
Security deposits means any moneys held by the landlord as security for the performance of the rental agreement, including, but not limited to, monetary damage to the landlord caused by the tenant’s breach of lease prior to the expiration thereof.
Legal holiday means holidays observed by the clerk of the court.
Servicemember shall have the same meaning as provided in s. 250.01.
Active duty shall have the same meaning as provided in s. 250.01.
State active duty shall have the same meaning as provided in s. 250.01.
Early termination fee means any charge, fee, or forfeiture that is provided for in a written rental agreement and is assessed to a tenant when a tenant elects to terminate the rental agreement, as provided in the agreement and vacates a dwelling unit before the end of the rental agreement. An early termination fee does not include:
- Unpaid rent and other accrued charges through the end of the month in which the landlord retakes possession of the dwelling unit.
- Charges for damages to the dwelling unit.
- Charges associated with a rental agreement settlement, release, buyout, or accord and satisfaction agreement.
Lease Term – The length of time the tenant has the right to rent the rental property; most residential leases are for one year, commercial leases are typically for several years.
Lease Commencement – The date when the Lease Term will start.
Lease Expiration – The date when the Lease Term ends.
Rent – A recurring amount of consideration, usually money, which the tenant gives to the landlord for the right to remain in the rental property.
Sub-Lease – When the tenant leases the rental property to another tenant.
Tenants – Who will be the person(s) or entities that are renting the rental property.
Hold Over Tenant – A tenant that remains in the rental property after the Lease Term expires.
Security Deposit – Amount of money the tenant pays to the landlord at the beginning of the Lease Term which is used by the landlord to cover any money the tenant owes the landlord after the Lease Term expires, such as for unpaid rent or property damage to the rental property.
Pet Deposit – An amount of money paid to the landlord by the tenant for the right to have a pet in the rental property; which may be non-refundable regardless whether the pet causes any damage or refundable depending on if the pet causes any damage.
Property Leased – The description of the property that the tenant is renting/leasing from the landlord, whether a house, apartment, office suite, vacant land, or unit in a shopping center.
Late Fees – A charge the tenant owes the landlord, in addition, to rent for not paying sums due the landlord such as rent on time; can be a flat amount such as $50 or a percentage of the amount originally due such as 5% of the monthly rent.
Rental Property Condition – A description of the rental property that explains if there is damage or not to the rental property; can be obtained at the beginning of the Lease Term or at the Lease Expiration.
Common Area Maintenance (CAM) Expenses /Charges /Fees – Expenses the landlord incurs for the maintenance of the larger complex within with the Property Leased is located and includes Common Areas such as parking garages or lots, security guards, grounds maintenance such as landscaping, and utilities, and is typically in Commercial Leases and not Residential Leases.
Common Areas – Areas of the larger complex within which the Property Leased is located, such as the hallways of a condominium that lead to the front door of the individual units, the lobby on the first floor, and the parking garage or lot.
Limited Common Areas – Areas of the property upon which the Property Leased is situated that are significantly related to the Leased Premises but because of their location are not the responsibility of the tenant, such as a balcony of a condominium, or parking space within the parking lot of a condominium.
Commercial Lease – A lease for businesses, such as a restaurant lease, office space leased in an office building, or a lease to rent vacant land so the tenant can grow agricultural products for harvesting and sale.
Residential Lease – A lease of a dwelling for the purpose of living in the dwelling.
Property Manager – A person or company hired by the landlord to operate the Rental Property by performing services for the landlord such as collecting rents from tenants, accounting for the collection of rents and payment of expenses, and hiring people to perform repairs to the Rental Property.
Broom Swept Condition – When the tenant vacates the rental property, leaving it in a condition that is reasonably clean, though not necessarily re-carpeted or repainted, and with the tenant’s property having been removed without appreciable damage to the rental property.
Normal Wear and Tear Excepted – When vacating the property, it is expected that depending on how long the tenant occupied the rental property, there will be some blemishes to the rental property such as wearing on the carpet or reasonable scuffs on tile and walls; but does not include significant damage such as holes in walls greater than small nail holes for hanging pictures, or shredded carpet such as when the pet dog was looking for his bone 2 feet underneath the rental property.
Right to Enter for Inspection – The landlord often has the right, after giving the tenant reasonable notice, to enter the rental property for purposes of inspecting it for damage or repairs that may be needed or to perform maintenance.
Lease Renewal – The right of the landlord and/or the tenant to continue the Lease Term after the Lease Expiration for a specific period of time agreed upon.
Rules and Regulations – In addition to the Lease, the landlord may promulgate additional things the tenant much due while on the Leased Premises or Common Areas such as the pool or gym.