3 Day Eviction Notice

 

Principato v. Campbell, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 1199a (Broward Co. 2011)

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 landlord-tenant relationship.

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 ยง 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 rental agreement).

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 landlord-tenant relationship.

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.

LANDLORD TENANT LAW:  In order to be considered "rent," the amount agreed to be paid on a periodic basis cannot fluctuate from month to month.