What is Ejectment and Unlawful Detainer?

Authored By: Florida Justice Technology Center


If someone is trying to remove you from a house using ejectment or unlawful detainer and you receive a complaint, you will need to decide what to do next.  Read this information for help filing an answer to the court after you are served with the complaint. 

** If you have been served with an unlawful detainer you have five working days to file a response regarding the case. (Do not count the day of service, Saturdays, Sundays or observed legal holidays.)


What is an unlawful detainer?

Unlawful detainer applies when friends, family members, significant others, or other persons are allowed to stay on a property with no rent or payment  and then refuse to leave. There is no lease or rental agreement and no landlord/tenant relationship. 

A common example is a boyfriend and girlfirend are living together in a house owned by the girlfriend and the boyfriend does not pay rent or utilities. After they break-up the boyfriend refuses to leave the house. The girlfriend can use an unlawful detainer to get him to leave. 

What is an ejectment?

An ejectment is similar to unlawful detainer where the owner is not a landlord and there is not a lease. But in an ejectment case, the owner of the property has title to the property. 

What is the difference between ejectment, unlawful detainer and eviction? 

An eviction involves a landlord, tenant and an agreement for rent like a lease or payment of rent. Ejectments and unlawful detainer do not have landlords and tenants or agreements like leases.  An unlawful detainer, the person being asked to leave has no claim or rights to the property. In an ejectment, the the owner of the property has title to the property. 

How long will it take before someone is removed from the property? 

An eviction and unlawful detainer are typically quicker than ejectment because they use a faster process called a "summary procedure" to get through the courts. 

Unlawful Detainer Checklist

Ejectment Checklist

How to file an answer

Updated: April 18, 2017 


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