An interesting landlord-tenant case appeared in today’s Florida Law Weekly summaries that involved evicting rent-to-own tenants. In the case, which was in Volusia County, the court decided that, when a tenant has signed a rent-to-own agreement, he or she may not be evictable under Chapter 83. There, the tenant revealed an option contract to which she had contributed a down payment on the sale price and thereafter had paid 12 months, which the court said fell within the exclusions to the the residential eviction chapter (Chapter 83) as listed in section 83.42(2), Florida Statutes (as amended in 2013).
The Court explained that “eviction is not the appropriate remedy where the occupant of the property has equity in the property and explained that, in amending section 83.42, “the legislature set a bright line for distinguishing tenants from buyers.”
Of course, this does not mean that the tenant can live rent-free forever. It merely means that the case is going to be more complicated than a simple eviction, and, in such a case, the landlord should see an attorney before filing an eviction. One challenge landlords face when filing eviction actions is that Florida’s landlord-tenant laws tend to be very technical. If a case is dismissed on a technicality, a landlord may have to pay the tenant’s attorney fees. Therefore, it is wise to contact an attorney who is knowledgable about current landlord-tenant law if you want to perform an evictions. Similarly, when faced with an eviction, tenants also should contact an attorney who regularly defends landlord-tenant actions; in some cases, in their favor, the case can be dismissed on a technicality (if it has not been filed properly), thereby awarding them a little more time in the property before they have to move on.
This particular case was transferred to circuit court, as section 26.012(g), Florida Statutes, grants exclusive original jurisdiction to circuit court in matters involving titles to real property.
Case: Harner v. Carter, Case No. 2014 32269 COCI, FLWSUPP 2204HARN (Fla. 7th Jud. Cir., Volusia County)