The No Mercy Eviction Rule for Tenants

A recent decision in the 11th Circuit in Broward County highlights a rule that can have very severe application for tenants in an eviction case.  The case of Fagan v.New Hope Dream Team Charity, Inc. (24 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 925a) reminds tenants of the pitfalls of 83.20(2), Florida Statutes. In fact, this section has been referred to as being a "no mercy" system for tenants, as well as commonly called "pay to play."  The Section requires tenants, within only five days after being served with the complaint, to either post with (i.e., pay to) the clerk of the court all of the claimed back owed rent or to file a motion to determine how much that rent should be.   If the tenant fails to do either, the landlord is entitled--without a hearing or notice--to a court order granting the landlord possession of the property and the tenant is deemed to have waived all defenses related to the possession of the property.  

While many deadlines in litigation can be either extended or even remedied if the missing of such a deadline was a good faith mistake with proper action taken to correct it quickly, Florida Statutes 83.20 allows for no wiggle room or apologies.  In fact, courts are forbidden from even taking into consideration the reasons the deadline was missed (including potentially even a serious injury or other real and actual emergency).  See, Park Adult Residential Facility, Inc. v. Dan Designs, Inc., 36 So. 3d 811, *812 (Fla 3d DCA 2010).  

It is critical that both landlords and tenants know their rights and be aware of the timelines and requirements imposed in an eviction in order to preserve that party's rights in a landlord-tenant eviction action.  If you have questions about your lease or about eviction, contact our landlord-tenant litigators today.