Campbell, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 1199a (Broward Co.
Plaintiff Has Failed To Establish The Existence Of A Landlord-Tenant Relationship As Agreeing
To Pay A Monthly Condominium Maintenance Fee Is Insufficient As That Fee Cannot Be Considered "Rent" As It
Fluctuates From Month To Month.
Mary Ann Principato v. Robert Campbell, County Court, 17th
Judicial Circuit In And For Broward County. Case No. 11-15393 COCE (52). Order entered on September 19, 2011 by
Judge Leonard Feiner.
Cite as: Principato v. Campbell, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 1199a (Broward Co. 2011).
In this eviction proceeding, the Plaintiff, Mary Ann Principato (the "Plaintiff"), sought
to evict the Defendant, Robert Campbell (the "Defendant"), for nonpayment of rent for the months of June, July
and August 2011. In defending the action, the Defendant sought to have the eviction Complaint dismissed
and claimed that that there was no landlord-tenant relationship. Additionally, the Defendant, in relying
on Quest International Investment, Inc. v. Stanley, 16 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 586b,
argued further that he was not required to tender the rent into the court registry in the absence of a
Initially, the trial Court disagreed and entered a Default Final Judgment For Eviction against
the Defendant and issued a Writ of Possession. However, upon the Defendant's filing of an Emergency Motion
To Set Aside The Default Final Judgment And To Quash The Writ of Possession, the Court decided to conduct an
evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the landlord-tenant relationship.
After hearing, the Court found there was no relationship. Here, the Plaintiff testified
that there was an oral lease whereby the Defendant was required to pay the monthly Condominium Association's
maintenance fee as "rent." However, the Court found that this, even if true, did not constitute "rent"
under the Landlord-Tenant Act. Specifically, the Court found that because the agreement was not in writing
and the monthly fee could fluctuate, it could not be considered "rent" as defined by Florida Statute § 83.43
(defining "rent" as 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
Additional testimony taken at the trial also doomed the Plaintiff's case. Specifically,
the Plaintiff's son testified that he was also renting the rental property with the Defendant. The
Plaintiff's son further testified that he had moved in and out of the property without formality or permission
from the Defendant while the Defendant was living there, there was no landlord-tenant relationship between the
Plaintiff and the Defendant. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the eviction lawsuit with prejudice.
Moreover, the Court found that although a Landlord is typically entitled to require a Tenant
to deposit the alleged past due rent into the Court Registry where the Tenant interposes any
defense other than payment, that general rule must yield where there is no
Finally, the Court ruled the Defendant was the prevailing party and, as such, was entitled to
receive reimbursement of attorneys' fees and costs from the Plaintiff.
LAW: In order to be considered "rent," the amount agreed to be paid on a periodic
basis cannot fluctuate from month to month.