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Evictions - The Writ of Possession

Stopping the writ of possession because you think the resident has vacated is usually a bad idea and a complete waste of the money you spent with the sheriff’s department for getting the job done. As soon as you authorize your attorney to have the writ of possession sent to the sheriff, your attorney writes a check out for a minimum of $90, and this is deposited by the sheriff’s department immediately. Always execute the writ of possession completely once it has been issued. You paid for it, so now get your money’s worth. Most importantly is to have the sheriff’s deputy completely walk the unit by himself or herself prior to you taking possession. Often the property manager will receive a phone call from the sheriff’s deputy asking the manager whether the resident is still in the unit. The answer should always be, “I really do not know, but we need you to meet us at the property and fully execute the writ of possession, as this is our company policy.” DO NOT allow the sheriff to get out of doing the job you paid for.

Do not Cancel the Writ of Possession

The sheriff’s deputy will call you once the writ of possession is served. The purpose of this call is to set up the date and time for you to meet with the sheriff’s deputy to “execute” the writ of possession. This call has been discussed in prior articles. DO NOT let the sheriff’s deputy convince you that if the resident has vacated, somehow you do not have to meet the sheriff’s deputy at the property. If you tell the sheriff’s deputy the resident has vacated, the sheriff’s deputy will ask you if you then want him or her to come out to execute the writ of possession, implying that it is not necessary. IF YOU SAY NO, the sheriff’s deputy will “NON- SERVE” the writ of possession, canceling the writ of possession execution, and you will NOT have completely evicted the resident. The sheriff’s deputies do this all over Florida every single day, so they will not have to come out and finish what they have been paid to do.

Meeting The Sheriff’s Deputy

It is imperative that when you meet the sheriff’s deputy, you have your locksmith present, or at least the ability to change the locks and secure the unit if you do this on your own. Some sheriff’s deputies have been known to “non-serve” the writ of possession if you do not change the locks. Be ready to secure the unit.

Walking the Unit

The execution of the writ of possession can be a dangerous activity. While most “normal” residents have vacated the premises by the time of the writ of possession execution, some will stay behind and wait for the sheriff’s deputy to physically remove them. In the worst cases, residents have committed suicide or attempted suicide at the very time the writ of possession was being executed. In some cases, the resident hides in the unit. It is crucial that the sheriff’s deputy completely walk the rental unit while you and your maintenance tech wait safely outside of the unit. This is a very dangerous time that can be full of surprises. Many sheriff’s deputies will go into the unit with their guns drawn. You want to demand that the sheriff’s deputy check each and every room, closet, under any beds, behind furniture, behind blinds, behind shower curtains, the garage, attic, crawl spaces, every room and ANYWHERE a person can hide. We have seen extremely dangerous encounters in which the property manager or maintenance techs have gone into the unit after the sheriff’s deputy has departed, only to be confronted and attacked by the resident who hid in the unit and was there the whole time.

We Cannot Stress this More

Probably the most frustrating part of our job as attorneys handling evictions is to see a property manager improperly deal with the writ of possession. No matter how many times we advise them to execute the writ of possession and meet the sheriff’s deputy, so many of our clients will allow the sheriff’s deputy to convince them that this is not necessary. This is a huge mistake. Finally, when meeting the sheriff’s deputy, PLEASE make certain the sheriff’s deputy fully does his or her job and walks the unit slowly and carefully. You paid for service, now make sure you get service. Your life could depend on it.


Written by Harry Heist, Attorney at Law




Florida Statutes

83.62 Restoration of possession to landlord.—

(1) In an action for possession, after entry of judgment in favor of the landlord, the clerk shall issue a writ to the sheriff describing the premises and commanding the sheriff to put the landlord in possession after 24 hours’ notice conspicuously posted on the premises. Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays do not stay the 24-hour notice period.

(2) At the time the sheriff executes the writ of possession or at any time thereafter, the landlord or the landlord’s agent may remove any personal property found on the premises to or near the property line. Subsequent to executing the writ of possession, the landlord may request the sheriff to stand by to keep the peace while the landlord changes the locks and removes the personal property from the premises. When such a request is made, the sheriff may charge a reasonable hourly rate, and the person requesting the sheriff to stand by to keep the peace shall be responsible for paying the reasonable hourly rate set by the sheriff. Neither the sheriff nor the landlord or the landlord’s agent shall be liable to the tenant or any other party for the loss, destruction, or damage to the property after it has been removed.