The County Civil Division handles civil actions in which the damages being sought or the matter in controversy is exceeding $5,000 up to $15,000. When filing a case in County Court, you must prepare all of the necessary paperwork yourself or have an attorney do it for you. The Clerk’s office does not prepare any paperwork in County Court.
Matters in controversy $5,000 and under are handled in Small Claims Court.
Once the case is filed, it must be served by either the Sheriff’s Office or, with the appropriate order of the court, by a private process server. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office charges $40.00 per defendant for service.
Providing the tenant a written notice
Non-Payment of Rent
Evictions of tenants for non-payment of rent require a 3-day written notice to the tenant to either pay the rent or vacate. When calculating the time, do not count the day of delivery, weekends, or holidays. The notice must be delivered, by mail or hand delivery, to the tenant or if the tenant is absent from the premises by posting the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises. The 3-day notice must seek only rent that is due. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, a copy of the 3-day notice is to be submitted to our office along with the eviction complaint to be filed with the court.
Evictions based upon material noncompliance of the lease other than non-payment of rent
Evictions of tenants for possession for material breaches of the lease other than for the nonpayment of rent require either 7-day notice to vacate or a 7-day notice to cure the material breach, depending upon the nature of the noncompliance. Please seek the advice of experienced legal counsel to assist with analyzing if a breach of the lease is material as well as what type of notice is appropriate to your circumstances under Florida law.
Evictions of a tenant in a lease without a specific term
If the tenancy is week to week, a 7-day notice prior to the end of the weekly period is required. If the tenancy is month to month, a 15-day notice prior to the end of the monthly period is required. If the tenancy is quarter to quarter, a 30-day notice prior to the end of the quarter period is required. If the tenancy is year to year, a 60-day notice prior to the end of the annual period is required. Please refer to Florida Statute 83.57 for more detail regarding requirements for the notices. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, a copy of the notice is to be submitted to our office along with the eviction complaint to be filed with the court.
Possession of Property
An eviction to tenants for possession only requires either a 7 or 15-day notice to vacate. If the tenancy is week to week, a 7-day notice is required. If the t tenancy is month to month, a 15-day notice is required. If you give a 15-day notice, there must be 15-days between the date you give the notice and the date for them to vacate. The 15th day must be on the date the rent is due again. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, a copy of the 7 or 15-day notice is to be submitted to our office along with the eviction complaint to be filed with the court.
Filing the Eviction with the Court
Eviction packets are available under Forms section of our website. If you are unable to obtain the eviction packet from our website, the clerk will provide the appropriate forms to file the eviction based on the type of notice given to the tenant. A copy of the tenant notice will be required as well as paying all filing fees.
Serving the Summons
Once the eviction is filed, the clerk will prepare a summons for pro se landlords to be served on the tenant. The summons may be served by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office or, with the appropriate court order, a private process server. If the pro se landlord chooses to use the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for service and provides the appropriate fees for service to the Clerk’s Office, the clerk will forward your summons to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for service. Upon service, the tenant has 5 business days to respond to the eviction portion of the complaint. The tenant is instructed to file their original answer to the clerk with a copy provided to the landlord.
If an answer to the eviction portion of the lawsuit has not been filed within 5 business days, the landlord will need to file a Motion for Default and a Non-Military Affidavit. Upon receipt of these documents, the clerk will forward the file to the Judge. The Judge will either set the case for a hearing or grant the landlord possession of the property. If the Judge grants the landlord possession of the property, the clerk will issue a Writ of Possession.
Writ of Possession
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office charges $90.00 to execute the Writ of Possession. The Sheriff will post the Writ of Possession and then contact the landlord to deliver possession of the property.
All forms needed for eviction proceedings are available at the Clerk’s Office, Room 1049, or online under Forms.
A Small Claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is $5,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees. Because Small Claims court is considered a “people’s court,” it is not necessary to have an attorney to file a claim. Forms to file a small claim case are available at the County Civil Department at the Clerk’s Office and here on our website. Attorneys are not precluded from this court, but are not required.
The Statement of Claim form is available at the Clerk’s Office or on this website. The case should be filed in the county in which the incident took place. If the case is filed in the wrong county, the Defendant may ask the court to change the venue to the proper county.
When filing a Small Claims case, please ensure that the proper party is named in the suit. All businesses named should be verified for accuracy at the Division of Corporations at the Florida Department of State. The Summons should include the name of the Registered Agent of the corporation. Any attachments to the claim should include one copy for the court file and one copy to be served on each defendant.
The summons may be served by the Sheriff, a process server, or by certified mail. Certified mail can only be served within the State of Florida. Pursuant to the Florida Small Claims Rules, if a plaintiff serves by certified mail a return receipt signed by the defendant, or someone authorized to receive mail at the residence or principal place of business of the defendant is required.
Upon the case filing, a pretrial date will be set. All parties will be required to attend the pretrial conference. If the defendant is not served, the Plaintiff is still required to attend the pretrial conference, to request a continuance and reschedule the pretrial conference. The Clerk will assist with the new date and with the preparation of a new summons for service (Plaintiff must pay the summons create & issue fee $17.00). If you do not attend pretrial, your case may be dismissed.
If there is service on the defendant, the case will normally be sent to a pretrial Mediation Conference. If the Plaintiff does not appear, the case is subject to being dismissed by the court. If the Defendant does not appear and the Plaintiff is present, a Default Judgment may be entered. If both parties are present, the mediator will work toward a resolution. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute at mediation a final hearing will be set.
The court does not collect the Judgment on the Plaintiff’s behalf. An information sheet may be obtained from the Clerk’s office which provides guidance on how to collect on the Judgment.
If you and the other party reach a settlement, the Clerk’s office must be notified in writing.