What an Ejectment Is (and What it is Not)
If someone has overstayed their welcome in your home it may be necessary to file a claim for ejectment in order to have them removed. Ejectment actions are governed by Chapter 66 of the Florida Statutes. To be able to recover in an action for ejectment a Plaintiff must be found to be the rightful title holder to the property and show that the other party has no right to the property.
It is important to understand what an action for ejectment is not. An ejectment action is not the same thing as an eviction and it is not the same thing as a forcible entry and unlawful detention lawsuit. Each of the foregoing actions have specific circumstances that must be met to entitle a property owner to the relief being sought. Perhaps, the biggest difference between an ejectment and other causes of action seeking to recover possession of a property is that in an ejectment action, the party residing in the property improperly is actually claiming that they have a tangible right to the property that is distinct from a landlord/tenant relationship. By way of further explanation, an eviction is based on some type of lease. The only way the landlord can remove the tenant is if the lease expires or if the tenant breaks a rule of the lease. An unlawful detainer/forcible entry is closely related to an ejection. Here, an owner normally allows a guest to remain on the property until an undefined time period. In an ejectment action by contrast, a person must have overstayed their welcome and they must also believe that they have a right to the property.
Bringing an Ejectment Action
There are several steps that must be taken when bringing an ejectment action. These actions can become somewhat complicated, so it is advised that you obtain a real-estate lawyer if you decide to pursue the action. Establishing that you are the true and rightful owner of the property is the NUMBER ONE priority in terms of ejectment actions. When filing the suit, you will become the “Plaintiff” in the action and the overstaying party on your property will be the “Defendant.” The Plaintiff will file a complaint stating that a person overstayed, that Plaintiff is the rightful owner, and that the party should be removed. These suits are filed in circuit court as opposed to the county court. The Defendant will then have twenty (20) days to respond to the Complaint. If Defendant does not respond, then Plaintiff will be awarded a default judgment (a judgment that just gives the Plaintiff what they ask for automatically without any other judicial proceedings needing to occur). After the default judgment is entered the sheriff will then be issued to the sheriff and they will come to the premises and remove them the property. However, if the Defendant files an answer then a hearing will need to be set so the Judge can listen to both sides and determine which side holds title. Examples where ejectment actions have been filed are:
- A boyfriend/girlfriend staying in the property after the couple breaks up
- A family member staying in a property devised from will that they claim they have right to
- A family member overstaying their welcome in the property
- A friend overstaying their welcome in the property
- A child/parent overstaying their welcome in the property
After the verdict is entered the Defendant can file within approximately 20 days (if he/she did not file for appeal) for what is known as betterment. This is where if the Defendant made any real improvements to the property and exercise their legal right to sue to be reimbursed for those improvements they believed that they had good title to the property.
I Can Help
If you have a situation similar to anything described above, then you may need to get in contact with an attorney and begin the procedures to remove your unwanted guest. Andrew J. Pascale can help. I am sure to be able to help you so you can enjoy your life and property again.
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