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Definitions and Statutes

Leases

Duties of the Parties & Landlord Liability

Removal Actions, Rights and Remedies

Liens and Distress Actions


 Q: What section of the Florida Statutes applies to commercial landlord-tenant relationships?

A: Florida landlord tenant law is found in Florida Statutes, Chapter 83, and consists of three parts. Part I discusses nonresidential or commercial tenancies. Part II discusses residential tenancies and Part III discusses self-service storage space.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.001, et seq. (2012).

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 Q: What is a term for years tenancy?

A: A term for years tenancy has a certain and definite duration, meaning a fixed term. A term for years tenancy is created by a written lease that expresses a term that is certain as to commencement and as to specific maximum duration. If the language of the lease contract does not express a certain term, a tenancy at will is created.

Source: Ehrlich v. Barbatsis Holding Co., 63 So. 2d 911, 913 (Fla. 1953).

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 Q: What is a tenancy at will?

A: A tenancy at will is a tenancy with durational insecurity, meaning for no fixed term. The term of a tenancy at will is determined by the period of payment, and the term is automatically renewed for successive periods. Such tenancy shall be from year to year, or quarter to quarter, or month to month, or week to week, to be determined by the periods at which the rent is payable. If the rent is payable weekly, then the tenancy shall be from week to week; if payable monthly, then from month to month; if payable quarterly, then from quarter to quarter; if payable yearly, then from year to year. The usual rights and duties of landlord and tenant exist, but either party may terminate the lease at any time by giving proper notice. A tenancy created by a written instrument with an unlimited term is considered a tenancy at will.

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.01, 83.02 (2012).

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 Q: What is a tenancy at sufferance?

A: A tenancy at sufferance is created by a wrongful holdover tenant. A tenancy at sufferance is only created when there is a written instrument, a limited term that has expired, and a holdover of possession by the tenant without a written renewal of the lease. The mere payment or acceptance of rent shall not be construed to be a renewal of the term, but if the landlord gives written consent to continue a holdover, the tenancy becomes one at will. If the parties agree to a new oral lease, there is no tenancy at sufferance. Pursuant to Section 83.06, Florida Statutes, a landlord may charge double rent when a tenant refuses to relinquish possession of the premises at expiration of the term. Further, a landlord still has the right to bring an action against a holdover tenant for the use and occupation of the premises.

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.04, 83.06, and 83.07 (2012).

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 Q: Under Florida law, is an oral lease enforceable?

A: Yes, as a tenancy at will. However, Florida’s Statute of Frauds law provides that a lease for longer than one year must be in writing to be enforceable. Nonetheless, an oral lease that is payable monthly is a month-to-month tenancy at will, and, thus, does not violate the Statute of Frauds if it continues in effect for more than a year.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.01 (2012), Mangum v. Susser, 764 So. 2d 653, 655 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000).

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 Q: What should be included in a written commercial lease?

A: First of all, a commercial lease should be written in plain and simple language, so all persons who are associated with the lease will understand the rights and obligations created by the lease. As to what should be included in a written commercial lease, it should include, at a minimum, the names of the parties, a specific description of the property, the term of the lease, a provision for rent payment, words of mutual agreement indicating the intent of both parties to create a lease contract, and the signatures of the parties. Further, a lease for more than one year should be signed in the presence of two subscribing witnesses. These witnesses do not need to be “disinterested,” meaning the witnesses may have some interest in the lease. For an extensive list of other subjects that should be considered when drafting a commercial lease see §8.02, Florida Commercial Landlord Tenant Law (Nicholas C. Glover, supplemented by Douglas MacGregor; LexisNexis Matthew Bender).

Source: Fla. Stat. § 689.01 (2012); Skyline Outdoor Communs., Inc. v. James, 903 So.2d 997 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005).

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 Q: How should a corporation “sign” a lease?

A: Section 692.01, Florida Statutes provides that a corporation may execute lease agreements by affixing the corporate seal and having it signed by its president or any vice president or chief executive officer. Thus, a commercial lease is void and unenforceable against the corporate tenant if it fails in this regard, except that it may be enforceable against a corporation if it was signed by a person with apparent authority. Further, commercial leases must comply with the two-witness requirement of Section 689.01, Florida Statutes.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 692.01 (2012); Radison Props., Inc. v. Flamingo Groves, Inc., 767 So. 2d 587 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000); Ocean Bank of Miami v. INV-UNI Inv. Corp., 599 So. 2d 694 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1992), rev. denied 606 So. 2d 1165 (Fla. 1992); Skylake Ins. Agency, Inc. v. NMB Plaza, LLC, 23 So. 3d 175 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009).

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 Q: What is apparent authority?

A: The Florida Supreme Court stated that the principle of apparent authority embraces the following three elements: 1) a representation by the principal, 2) reliance on that representation by a third person, and 3) a change of position by the third person in reliance on the representation. Clearly, the reliance of a third party on the “apparent authority” of a principal’s agent must be reasonable and rest in the actions of or appearances created by the principal, and “not by agents who often ingeniously create an appearance of authority by their own acts.”

Source: Security Union Title Ins. Co. v. Citibank (Florida), N.A., 715 So. 2d 973, 974-75 (Fla. 1st DCA) rev. dismissed, 728 So. 2d 200 (Fla. 1998).

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 Q: What rules should be followed in construing or interpreting a lease?

A: The general rules of contract construction apply to the construction of a Florida commercial lease contract. A lease agreement must be construed to give effect to the parties’ intent. Every contract provision should be given meaning and effect and the deliberate distribution of benefits and burdens by the parties should not be disturbed by the court. The individual terms of a lease contract should be considered as a whole and in relation to one another, and not in isolation. When possible, provisions that apparently conflict should be construed so they do not conflict. However, when two clauses of a lease are adverse to each other and cannot stand together the first remains and the latter fails. A lease provision that specifically addresses a subject takes precedence over a general provision concerning that subject. The intention of the parties is to be obtained from the unambiguous terms of the contract, not from what may have existed in the minds of the parties but was not reflected in the written lease. Courts will not interpret contracts in a manner that extends or enlarges the obligations of a contracting party beyond the plain meaning of the language used in the contract itself.

Source: Stemmler v. Moon Jewelry Co., 139 So. 2d 150 (Fla. 1st DCA 1962); Jerry’s, Inc. v. Miami, 591 So. 2d 1000 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991); Meyer v. Caribbean Interiors, 435 So. 2d 936 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983); Petrou v. Wilder, 557 So. 2d 617, 618 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990); Freundlich v. Lassiter, 666 So. 2d 164 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995); Sisco v. Rotenberg, 104 So. 2d 365, 368 (Fla. 1958); Leesburg Cmty. Cancer Ctr. v. Leesburg Reg’l Med. Ctr., Inc., 972 So. 2d 203, 207 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).

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 Q: Is a tenant liable for breach of contract for “going dark?”

A: Yes, in some circumstances. A tenant will be liable to the landlord for “going dark” if the lease expressly or impliedly includes a covenant of continuous operation. Assuming there is no such express provision in the lease, the court must determine, based on the entirety of the facts and circumstances surrounding the lease, whether the parties intended it to include an implied covenant of continuous operation. Possibly the most important factor is whether the rental to be paid is based solely on a percentage of the sales or profits generated by the business. If the court finds that there was no such intent, the tenant’s “going dark” will not be deemed a breach of the lease, provided it continues to timely pay rent.

Source: Lincoln Tower Corp. v. Richter’s Jewelry Co., 12 So. 2d 452 (Fla. 1943); Mayfair Operating Corp. v. Bessemer Properties, Inc., 150 Fla. 132, 136 (Fla. 1942); Diltz v. J & M Corp., 381 So. 2d 272 (Fla. 3d DCA 1980); Stemmler v. Moon Jewelry Company, Inc., 139 So. 2d 150 (Fla. 1st DCA 1962); Jerrico, Inc. v. Wash. Nat’l Ins. Co., 400 So. 2d 1316, 1318 (Fla. 5th DCA 1981).

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 Q: What is a covenant of continuous operation?

A: A covenant of continuous operation is an obligation on the part of the tenant to continue to operate the business at the leased premises. This obligation is especially important where the rent is tied in some way to the tenant’s business, such as being based on tenant’s gross sales or profits. This covenant is also important in the context of anchor tenants that generate substantial traffic to the premises, thereby increasing the sales of the other tenants. A covenant of continuous operation is breached when the tenant discontinues operations (“goes dark”) at the leased premises, even though it continues to pay rent.

Source: 15 Williston on Contracts § 48:4 (4th ed.)

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 Q: Describe the landlord’s duty to deliver possession of the premises.

A: The landlord has an implied duty to give possession to the tenant at the time stated in the lease contract. In other words, the landlord is bound to permit the tenant to take possession at the commencement of the term and to interpose no obstacle thereto. Delivery of a lease authorizes the tenant to take possession according to the terms of the instrument. During the term of the lease, the tenant in possession is for all practical purposes the owner of the property, having the right of possession, dominion, control, and use thereof, in the absence of a statute affecting or limiting such rights. Where the lessor fails to give possession, the lessee may maintain an appropriate action against the lessor, such as an action for damages or an action for possession. In the context of new construction, an implied warranty or covenant arises that the completed structure will be suitable for the lessee’s intended use.

Source: 52A C.J.S. Landlord & Tenant §§ 724, 731 (2012); Levitz Furniture Co. of E. Region v. Cont’l Equities, 411 So. 2d 221, 223 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982).

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 Q: What is the landlord’s covenant of quiet enjoyment?

A: A covenant of quiet enjoyment made by the landlord assures the tenant that the landlord’s title is not defective and that the tenant’s possession will not be disturbed. It protects the tenants against the acts or hindrances of the landlord. As the name suggests, it assures that the tenant shall have legal quiet and peaceable possession and enjoyment of the leased premises. The landlord’s duty to provide quiet enjoyment also applies to a subtenant. A covenant of quiet enjoyment is implied in the lease, whether written or oral. However, the parties may expressly exclude the implication of a covenant for quiet enjoyment.

Source: 52A C.J.S. Landlord & Tenant § 768 (2012); Blum v. Kohlmeyer & Co., 363 So. 2d 1129 (Fla. 3d DCA 1978).

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 Q: What happens if the landlord breaches the covenant of quiet enjoyment?

A: A tenant may bring an action for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment against the landlord for interference with the use and enjoyment of the rented property. A breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment may entitle the tenant to be discharged from his obligations under the lease; the tenant no longer has to pay rent. An express covenant of quiet enjoyment may provide that the landlord shall pay damages to the tenant if the beneficial enjoyment of the premises is interrupted by a failure in the landlord’s title.

Source: 52A C.J.S. Landlord & Tenant §§ 777 (2012).

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 Q: Is a landlord liable for injuries occurring on the leased premises?

A: Generally, a landlord is not liable for injuries occurring on the leased premises. However, a landlord may be liable for injuries if the condition causing the injury is:

  1. a violation of law;
  2. a pre-existing defect;
  3. an inherent danger; or
  4. the landlord undertakes a covenant to repair.

When there has been a violation of law by the landlord, not even an exculpatory clause will insulate the landlord from liability. See John’s Pass Seafood Co. v. Weber, 369 So. 2d 616 (Fla. 2d DCA 1969) (finding that landlord is not permitted to exculpate himself from liability to a tenant for fire damage which occurred as a result of the landlord’s failure to provide firefighting equipment on leased dock).

A pre-existing defect in a structure or premises will generally lead to a landlord’s liability for injuries to strangers that are caused by that defect. The landlord has a duty to warn any guests of a tenant against known dangers the licensee is not likely to discover and to refrain from wanton negligence or willful misconduct. However, when a tenant is in complete control of the premises and a defect comes into existence during the term of the lease, or a dangerous condition is the direct result of the tenant’s use of the premises, a landlord will not normally be liable for injuries to an invitee of the tenant. See Lich v. N.C.J. Inv. Co.,728 So. 2d 1191 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999) (landlord was not found liable when a window that broke and injured tenant’s employee had operated properly for one year and was installed prior to landlord’s purchase of the building.)

A landlord who assumes a duty to repair or to improve the rented premises is held to a standard of reasonable care in making the repairs or improvements. A landlord will be liable for injuries caused by the negligence of his own unskillful work or the work of his servants or employees in making the repairs or in leaving the premises in an unsafe condition, even if the repairs are undertaken voluntarily.

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 Q: Does a landlord have a duty to protect against foreseeable criminal activity?

A: Yes, landlords may have a duty to protect against foreseeable criminal activity. This duty may be limited to harm occurring on premises under the direct control of the landlord. For instance, this duty extends to common areas within the landlord’s control.

Source: McVicker v. Kolb, 839 So. 2d 768, 769 (Fla. 4thDCA 2003)

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 Q: Can a commercial landlord protect itself from liability for its own negligence?

A: Yes. A commercial landlord may avoid liability for its own negligence by inserting a specific exculpatory clause, with clear terms, in the lease contract. Exculpatory clauses that limit or exempt liability for negligence are disfavored, but are enforceable in Florida courts.

Source: University Plaza Shopping Center, Inc. v. Stewart, 272 So. 2d 507, 511 (Fla. 1973)

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 Q: In general, what are the duties and obligations of the tenant?

A: The tenant’s primary duty is the payment of rent. The tenant also has the duty to surrender the premises at the termination of the lease agreement. Additionally, the tenant has a duty not to commit waste. When the lease term begins, the tenant has the right to occupy and to use the premises described in the lease. However, in the absence of a specific provision or in the absence of waste, the tenant has no obligation to occupy or use, or to continue to use the demised premises for a particular purpose, even if both parties expected and intended a particular purpose.

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 Q: What is waste?

A: Waste is the abusive or destructive use of property by someone who is in rightful possession of the property. Waste implies neglect or misconduct that results in material damage but does not include the ordinary depreciation of property from time and normal use. Implicit in the landlord-tenant relationship is the obligation on the part of the tenant not to commit waste to the leased premises.

Source: Black’s Law Dictionary 1425 (5th ed. 1979); Stegeman v. Burger Chef Sys., Inc., 374 So. 2d 1130, 1131 (Fla. 1st DCA 1979).

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 Q: What are the landlord’s remedies when a tenant has committed waste to the premises?

A: When a landlord is confronted with a tenant’s present act of waste, the landlord may seek an injunction to restrain the tenant from committing further waste. After waste has been committed by the tenant, a landlord may bring an action in damages for waste committed by the tenant that caused injury to the landlord’s future interest in the property.

Source: Rogers v. Martin, 87 Fla. 204, 208 (Fla. 1924); Stephenson v. National Bank of Winter Haven, 92 Fla. 347, 353 (Fla. 1926).

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 Q: What are the landlord’s remedies when the tenant has held over after the expiration of the term of the lease?

A: When a tenant holds over beyond the term of his tenancy, the landlord has the following legal remedies: (1) demanding double rent; (2) demanding a specific amount of continuing rent; or (3) initiating a removal action, i.e. suing for the possession of the property plus damages, including special damages for loss of the property’s use.

Source: Lincoln Oldsmobile v. Branch, 574 So. 2d 1111, 1113 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1990); Fla. Stat. §§ 83.20-83.251 (2012).

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 Q: May a landlord demand double rent from a tenant who holds over after the end of the term?

A: Yes. The landlord has the statutory right to demand double rent at the end of the month, or in the same proportion for a longer or shorter time by distress, from a tenant who holds over willfully and without title after the end of the term. However, a tenant is probably not liable for double rent if he holds over with a reasonable good faith claim of a right to possession. The statute should be construed in favor of tenant and against the landlord. For this reason, the obligation to pay double rent has been held to begin on the day of the demand and is not retroactive to the date of the holdover. In order for a landlord to collect double rent as authorized by Florida Statute Section 83.06, the landlord must first give notice to the tenant of his intention to demand double rent. For example, the term of a lease ended on March 31, but the tenant continued their possession of the property. The landlord demanded double rent on April 30. Assuming the landlord gave the tenant notice of his intention to demand double rent, the day that double rent is calculated is April 30, the day of the demand.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.06 (2012); Greentree Amusement Arcade v. Greenacres Dev. Corp., 401 So. 2d 915, 917 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981); Painter v. Groveland, 79 So. 2d 765, 768 (Fla. 1955); Lincoln Oldsmobile v. Branch, 574 So. 2d 1111, 1113 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1990).

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 Q: Is “self-help” entry allowed by the landlord in an eviction action?

A: No, in most circumstances. In 1983, the Florida Legislature made substantial changes to Florida Statutes Section 83.05, taking away the landlord’s right to immediate re-entry and possession, following a tenant’s rent default. Now, Section 83.05, Florida Statutes, only provides that the landlord shall recover possession of the rented premises only (1) under Section 83.20 (discussing holdover without permission; holdover after default, and; holdover after failing to cure a material breach) or other civil possessory action, (2) when the tenant surrenders possession of the rented premises to the landlord, or (3) when the tenant abandons the rented premises.

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.05 and 83.20 (2012).

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 Q: When may a tenant bring an action for wrongful eviction?

A: An action for wrongful eviction is proper when a landlord’s wrongful act deprives a tenant of possession of the rented premises or disturbs a tenant’s beneficial enjoyment so as to cause the tenant to abandon the premises. A wrongful eviction may be either actual or constructive. Generally, the tenant must abandon the premises in order to sue the landlord for wrongful eviction.

Source: Richards v. Dodge, 150 So. 2d 477, 481 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1963).

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 Q: What is a constructive eviction?

A: A constructive eviction results from the intended disturbance by the landlord or his agent that interferes with the tenant’s possession and either renders the premises unfit for the purpose rented, or deprives the tenant of his beneficial enjoyment of the premises. Eviction may occur from a landlord’s direct act of interference, from an interference with the tenant’s access to the rented premises, or from a third party’s interference. A constructive eviction has the effect of essentially depriving the tenant of the beneficial enjoyment of the leased premises as where they are rendered unsafe, unfit, or unsuitable for occupancy in whole or in substantial part for the purposes for which leased.

Source: Ralston, Inc. v. Miller, 357 So. 2d 1066, 1069 (Fla. 3d DCA 1978).

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 Q: Does a tenant have recourse against a landlord that removes the tenant without legal process?

A: Possibly. If the landlord takes possession from the tenant without legal process, the tenant may bring an action for unlawful entry and detainer. It is irrelevant to such action that the tenant’s possession was wrongful. The action is designed to compel the party claiming rightful possession to use legal channels in lieu of self-help measures.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 82.01, et seq (2012).

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 Q: What type of written notice is required to be served by the landlord prior to bringing a removal action?

A: No notice is required where tenant holds over and continues in the possession of the demised premises, or any part thereof, after the expiration of the lease term, without the permission of the landlord. Three days’ notice is required for a tenant that defaults in the payment of rent. Fifteen days’ notice is required for a tenant that materially breaches the lease or oral agreement, other than nonpayment of rent.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.20 (2012).

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 Q: What is “summary procedure” in the context of a removal action?

A: A removal action is summary in nature. The purpose of a removal action is to give the landlord fast relief when the tenant is in default under the rent provisions of the contract. Florida landlord and tenant law entitles the landlord to summary procedure under Florida Statutes Chapter 51. A summary removal complaint must contain the matters required by the removal statute: Florida Statutes, Section 51.011(1). The summary removal complaint should be filed in the county court where the premises is located. The tenant must answer the complaint within five days after receiving service of process, excluding any intervening Saturdays or Sundays, or legal holidays. Generally, default is improper when a party has filed a responsive pleading or otherwise defended before entry of default. All defenses of law or fact must be contained in the tenant’s answer. The tenant may incorporate a counterclaim into his answer, thereby requiring the landlord to serve an answer to the counterclaim within five days of receiving service of the tenant’s answer. No other pleadings are permitted in summary procedure.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.21 (2012); Fla. Stat. § 51.011(1) (2012); Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.090(a).

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 Q: If a tenant is wrongfully evicted may he or she sue for damages, and, if so, how are they measured?

A: Yes, for general damages and sometimes for lost profits, relocation expenses, and punitive damages. General damages are usually determined by finding the difference, if any, between the market value of the remainder of the term and the rent value of the remainder of the term. The tenant may also be entitled to lost profits and relocation expenses if the tenant is unable to find a comparable location to rent within the immediate area for the same rental amount. When a landlord’s wrongful eviction ends a tenant’s business, the tenant may recover damages that include compensation for injury to business, including a loss of future profits if future profits can be ascertained within a reasonable degree of certainty. Punitive damages may be claimed if the landlord’s behavior that causes the eviction is malicious and wanton in nature, or constitutes fraud, gross negligence or oppression.

Source: Ardell v. Milner, 166 So. 2d 714, 716 (Fla. 3d DCA 1964); Young v. Cobbs, 83 So. 2d 417, 420 (Fla. 1955).

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 Q: Is the tenant required to pay rent into the court registry in a removal action?

A: Yes. Section 83.232, Florida Statutes, requires that in any removal action, the tenant must pay into the court registry the amount alleged in the complaint and any rent accrued during the pendency of the action, unless the tenant has interposed a defense of payment or satisfaction of the rent in the amount the complaint alleges as unpaid. The court, on its own motion, shall notify the tenant of the requirement that rent be paid into the court registry by order, which shall be issued immediately upon filing of the tenant’s initial pleading, motion, or other paper. The filing of a counterclaim for money damages does not relieve the tenant from depositing rent due into the registry of the court. If the landlord is in actual danger of loss of the premises or other hardship resulting from the loss of rental income from the premises, the landlord may apply to the court for disbursement of all or part of the funds so held in the court registry.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.232 (2012).

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 Q: What if the tenant contests the amount that is due to be paid into the court registry?

A: If the tenant contests the amount that is due to be paid into the court registry, the tenant must pay the amount determined by the court. Generally, the landlord must prove the amount the amount that is due. The court will issue an order for the defendant to pay a certain amount due.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.232 (2012).

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 Q: What if the tenant does not or cannot pay rent into the court registry in a removal action?

A: A tenant’s failure to pay rent into the court registry is cause for immediate default in favor of the landlord. Section 83.232, Florida Statutes, provides that “failure of the tenant to pay the rent into the court registry pursuant to court order shall be deemed an absolute waiver of the tenant’s defenses. In such case, the landlord is entitled to an immediate default for possession without further notice or hearing thereon.” The clear language of the statute precludes any procedure in which a trial court may excuse non-compliance with a prior order.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.232 (2012).

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 Q: What is the landlord’s lien for rent?

A: Section 83.08, Florida Statutes, provides that a landlord has a lien for unpaid rent upon the tenant’s personal property. The lien is upon all agricultural products raised on the rented property, upon all other property of the tenant “usually kept on the premises,” and upon “all other property” of the tenant. Certain property of the tenant is exempt from distress and sale to enforce the landlord’s lien for rent. Exempt property in the commercial setting includes “beds, bedclothes and wearing apparel.”

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.08 and 83.09 (2012).

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 Q: How is the landlord’s lien for rent enforced?

A: Enforcing the landlord’s lien for rent begins with filing a distress for rent complaint, which initiates a distress for rent proceeding. Distress proceedings are summary in nature and informal. A distress writ shall be issued by a judge of the court which has jurisdiction of the amount claimed. The remedy of distress for rent only applies to commercial tenancies, and is abolished with regard to residential tenancies.

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.11, 83.12, and 713.691 (2012).

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 Q: What’s included in a distress for rent complaint, and where is it filed?

A: The distress for rent complaint must be verified, and it must state the name of the tenant and his relation to the landlord, facts showing how the rent obligation arose, the amount or quality and value of the rent due, and whether the rent is payable in money, farm products or another form of consideration. It must be filed in the court that has jurisdiction for the amount claimed in the county where the leased premise is located.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.11 (2012).

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 Q: What is a distress bond?

A: Before a judge can issue a distress writ the landlord must file a bond with surety to be approved by the court clerk, and payable to the tenant in at least double the amount demanded; or, if property, in double the value of the property sought to be levied on. The bond should be conditioned to pay all costs and damages which the tenant sustains if the landlord institutes an improper distress proceeding.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.12 (2012).

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 Q: What is a distress writ?

A: A distress writ is issued by the judge in a distress for rent proceeding, once the landlord files its distress for rent complaint and distress bond. The writ enjoins the tenant from damaging, disposing of, secreting or removing from the leased premises any property subject to the distress writ, from the time the distress writ is served to the tenant until the sheriff levies on the property, the writ is vacated or the court orders otherwise. A tenant may be punished with contempt of court if he violates the distress writ. If the tenant does not file a motion for the dissolution of the distress writ under Section 83.15, Florida Statutes, before the time for answering the complaint has expired, the sheriff shall seize the property liable to distress.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.12 (2012).

Information and Source reference for this webpage is courtesy of Florida Commercial Landlord Tenant Law (Nicholas C. Glover, supplemented by Douglas MacGregor; LexisNexis Matthew Bender) and Florida Statutes Chapter 83.

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- Chairman of the Board for Endocrine, Diabetes & Metabolism Medical Practice Testimonial

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Their experience in class-action claim defense has enabled us to achieve some swift, cost-effective results on consumer claims cases. They have a tried and true playbook that works. Jimerson Birr can spout off the law on most of the issues off the top of their head if you ask them too. I was always impressed by that, but what made me more impressed was how good they were to work with when dealing with difficult claimants in challenging cases.

- Complex Claims Specialist for Small Business Insurer Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

In my entire career, I’ve never seen as convoluted as a case as my last one with Jimerson Birr. This case had everything. With each twist and turn, Jimerson Birr remained calm and steady. They put together a strategy from the beginning that worked. Even things that we couldn’t have foreseen didn’t shake them as they delivered an incredible result for us. They managed a great case, came in on budget and were a hoot to work with.

- Casualty Claim Specialist at Large Property & Casualty Insurer Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr makes business to business debt collection easier than it normally is. They are effective because they are diligent, organized and aggressive. They are aware that a proactive and sensitive approach often yields the best result. They often secure payment in an agreeable manner, without putting a strain on the relationships we have with our customers. When a settlement cannot be worked out, they will go to the ends of the earth to get our money back. I’ve never seen such creativity and resourcefulness in getting our money back. They’ve been a trusted partner since the firm started and it has been fun to see our companies advance together.

- Recovery Account Manager at Medical Supply Company Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

The team at Jimerson Birr have served as my legal counsel from my business’ inception, and their matter-of-fact, investigated approach has proven to be a great value while navigating a complicated industry with heavy regulation. As a cannabis dispensary with several storefronts, I rest easy knowing that my legal team not only has a stronghold at the forefront of this niche market but also help us to advance our growth with their thoughtful recommendations to ensure my business and investment are protected and flourishing.

- Cannabis Dispensary Chief Operating Officer

What Our Clients are Saying...

This is my choice firm for my company’s needs. I’ve never brought an issue to Jimerson Birr that isn’t swiftly remedied and thoroughly examined. When the need arises for sound legal advice or ensuring compliance with the ever-changing laws and trends within the industry, this firm is always prepared and one step ahead with their expertise, anticipation and preparation for what’s next. With our technology focus in an emerging industry, it is nice to work with lawyers who have flexibility and intellect to handle complex issues in areas we have watched other service providers stumble.

- Chief Executive Officer of Agricultural Analytics & Technology Company Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

My partnership with Jimerson Birr began when I was referred to them for an assist on a content protection matter. They quickly jumped right in to fully assess and mitigate until a resolution was determined. When seeking counsel to handle the myriad of legal compliance and protection matters within the communications industry, the get-it-done lawyers live here. They deliver what they say they will and have become a trusted resource integral to our successful management.

- Media House Business Development Executive

What Our Clients are Saying...

Trailblazers. Their no-nonsense, proficient understanding of the varied needs of a content generator and distributor is unmatched. From recommended preventive measures to monitoring compliance and enforcement to handling specific dispute resolutions, Jimerson Birr is an excellent example of what a top-of-the-line legal practice can do for members of the communications and media industry.

- Digital News Communications Officer

What Our Clients are Saying...

The commitment of Jimerson Birr is unrivaled. Through collaboration, dutiful guidance and cost-effective solutions, our school’s short and long-term goals are on track and our operational capacities have flourished. Working with this firm is an easy decision. If you want to create a positive, smooth experience for staff and students alike, this is who you need by your side to rethink and rework any part of your system. They were particularly helpful with compliance and employment related issues. Their connections in government helped us achieve some goals we were not sure we could reach.

- Chief Financial Officer Testimonial of Private School

What Our Clients are Saying...

This is the firm I use when our university encounters a legal issue in need of a creative solution; particularly on really heated litigation we had. Jimerson Birr’s masterful understanding of the facts and law came from our lawyer's dedication to understanding the complex nature of our wild issues and how they affected our institution across more cases than one. I've come to understand that they settle cases that can't be settled short of giving the farm away, and are ready to try any case that merits it.

- College Associate Dean for Finance and Administration

What Our Clients are Saying...

When dealing with a land use and zoning issue, we brought in Jimerson Birr when we needed advanced legal representation. Their ability to quickly traverse the matter and get up to speed was done with nothing but finesse. With fine focus and detail, they were able to help us find a solution for what was becoming a contentious matter. We kept them on board for the next phase of our expansion and are more than pleased with their service.

- Solar Energy Development Executive

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr is always who we go to when our company needs quick action. Their turnaround time on hot-button issues to our utility company is unrivaled. From compliance, environmental diligence, permitting, mitigation and beyond, I have never brought an issue to them that they cannot handle and craft a plan of action that best fits our needs. I have referred many to Jimerson Birr for varied legal matters across multiple sectors and this is due to my immense trust for what these attorneys are able to accomplish.

- Natural Gas Company Vice President of Distribution

What Our Clients are Saying...

As a new franchisee, the decision to purchase a franchise was one that involved much deliberation. During this time and as my family approached a decision, we enlisted Jimerson Birr to guide us through the extensive process. Both the level of service and detail that went into this were outstanding, and the firm’s assistance and direction made what can be a tiresome process a much more palatable experience. Without Jimerson Birr, certain contractual nuances may have been missed and become costly aftermath issues. However, nothing was overlooked, a thorough examination of all materials was conducted, and, in the end, we walked away with much more industry knowledge and a clean, successful acquisition. We are set up to succeed with help from this firm.

- Fitness Facility Owner and Operator

What Our Clients are Saying...

As a franchisor who has had substantial work to do in franchisor-franchisee relations when we bought the business, Jimerson Birr was incredibly helpful in getting us focused on the bigger issues that we had to prioritize in order to save all the franchises. We worked to terminate underperforming franchise owners and develop better support systems for performing franchise owners. At this point, I have developed a time-tested, close relationship with many of the attorneys at Jimerson Birr. There are a few we use because of their different specialties. My team is constantly impressed with their level of service, commitment to quality work, and profound recollection of matters that affected each franchisor through the years. The firm has been a good source of continuity when we have had turnover. They are teachers who help us understand what laws are important to us and how certain decisions impact the business. I have referred many friends and peers to Jimerson Birr because, honestly, they are a truly superior business law firm and their service and legal judgment is one I cannot speak more highly of.

- Chief Executive Officer of Restoration Services Franchisor

What Our Clients are Saying...

We’ve used them for specialized legal services, like legislation drafting, direct advocacy, investigative issues and campaign finance issues. Jimerson Birr has consistently delivered results. Many of these issues required focused legal insight and extensive industry knowledge, which they had. Solid group.

- State Commerce Committee Member Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Handling employee disputes in the public sector can often times be a daunting task for any law firm. Quick remediation is paramount in order to properly handle multiple parties in a swift manner. Anytime we have brought Jimerson Birr in as counsel for these issues we have been extremely satisfied with the level of finesse delivered. We’ve never had a PR nightmare when they were involved. I would definitely call on them again if needed.

- County School Board President

What Our Clients are Saying...

Many of us in healthcare, specifically those of us treating senior residents and patients, are no stranger to liability concerns. It takes a very specific skillset to help us properly manage our risk, and Jimerson Birr always provides a superior defense when dealing with these matters. Regulations are tight in our field and you have to follow the rules. With Jimerson Birr, we have a reliable legal defense to prevent issues and treat issues when they arise. They are always looking out for our best interests which, in turn, allows us to provide appropriate care to our patients. Doing what’s right can sometimes be looked at through a magnifying glass, but Jimerson Birr is there to assist when actions are honest but additional investigation is required. Very supportive and accountable, which are traits that matter to us when we choose to employ service providers. They are pretty fun loving lawyers too, which makes them great to be around.

- Chief Executive Officer of Assisted Living Facility Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr is the only firm that we trust to create, manage and amend relevant documents for the telehealth portion of our organization. They are always knowledgeable on recent state and federal rules and regulations, and this allows us to feel confident that we are staying compliant and ahead of any changes. They offer cost-effective options for the level of attention provided and, in the end, save us from unknown issues and costs if we were not employing their services. My highest recommendation goes to this firm and their healthcare industry team of attorneys.

- Psychiatry Private Practice Owner

What Our Clients are Saying...

This past year, we’ve seen an ever-changing climate within the hospitality industry, and we have utilized the attorneys at Jimerson Birr to help guide us through these new times. When we decided to outsource certain elements of our business and human resources operations, we brought in the fine team at Jimerson Birr to help is ensure our employees’ safety during day-to-day operations. When we had an insurance or leasing issue, they came through. I was thrilled to find out that the folks who helped us on real estate and construction team were dishwashers, servers and bartenders before becoming lawyers. It made me feel like they understood me better and their service mentality was obviously something that they stayed true to. This firm has served us well as they acted as advisors in a variety of capacities relative to management and our staff. I hope I don’t need them much more in the future, but I’m sure I will and when I do they’ll answer my call.

- President of Multi-Market Restaurant Chain Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Expert legal counsel is vital to those of us running independently owned franchises but still having to follow general guidelines from our parent company. As a hotel franchise owner of multiple properties under an international umbrella, I have used Jimerson Birr to guide me through a wide range of items to ensure I am compliant to avoid any repercussions. I can tell them what I need to accomplish, and they can quickly provide me with the information, resources and knowledge to make an informed, smart business decision. We try to deliver an experience that exceeds expectations to our customers, and it seems that they do to.

- Hotel Franchise Owner

What Our Clients are Saying...

Property and casualty insurance claims can often become quite contentious. Like many insurance agencies along coastal communities, coverage relative to damage from natural disasters is a regular part of our day-to-day claims. These claims can often become complex in nature and when our agency needs to contract legal counsel, Jimerson Birr is always our first choice. Throughout our experience with this firm, we have always encountered a fine level of attention and detail which has allowed us to avoid many costly errors along the way. The firm’s professional approach to each individual matter we have brought to them has always been handled with winning strategy.

- Insurance Brokerage Department Manager

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr exemplifies a firm that understands business as much as they understand the law. They always pleasantly surprise me when I need to know a simple answer on the fly. They are responsive and can get straight to the issue without racking up a big bill for my modest agency. When I refer them work, they take great care of my clients, which helps me develop more business. We’ve had construction and business interruption issues that were really challenging, but they knew how to get a good result from a bad situation. My referral of the firm to my clients is a reflection of my own business and thusly a testament to the faith that I have in them as a whole.

- Insurance Agency Owner

What Our Clients are Saying...

When my company began courting distribution agreements during recent expansion, we were referred to Jimerson Birr to strategize. What I found in this firm is a combined skillset of legal expertise and business acumen that is truly one-of-a-kind. Not only were they able to assist me in this transitional phase and selection process, but they have offered so much more in terms of business solutions and ensuring our agreements were sound and fair. As business steadily increases, I have relied heavily on Jimerson Birr to protect my interests and serve as our legal champion.

- Printing Manufacturing President

What Our Clients are Saying...

When we purchased our new manufacturing plant, Jimerson Birr guided us through the entirety of the process with both our immediate and long-term business goals in mind. They effectively created an ownership transition plan and efficiently handled what can often become a drawn-out process one that was a pleasant, well-thought endeavor for all parties. This complex process was made a little easier because we had the right legal counsel by our side.

- General Manager of Food Distribution Company Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Connected. Jimerson Birr’s experienced attorneys and a network that transcends many other business law firms is an advantage worth exploring. They bring sound advice, are quick take hold of the subject, and get to the point. Through diligent preparation and communication, you will always know where you stand and how your matter is progressing. Jimerson Birr disciplined approach typifies what a quality legal practice can do for anyone working in the professional services industry. We’ve actually upped our game in the service department based on methods Jimerson Birr employed with us and our clients.

- Managing Partner of Regional Accounting Firm Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

As a leader of a recruiting company with a local presence, I become acquainted with Jimerson Birr during one of their recruitment efforts. As my company transitioned to outsourcing its legal counsel, I was immediately impressed by what I learned about this firm. After assisting them with a project, I decided to explore the options of using them to support our company’s own needs. I have been so impressed with their legal capabilities and have since used Jimerson Birr as my legal partner for a bevy of matters. This organic union is one that came at just the right time, and I cannot recommend their services enough.

- Staffing Solutions Human Resources Generalist

What Our Clients are Saying...

Industry leaders. They cut through the noise and get straight to the point. In a market with high stakes and quick changes, Jimerson Birr’s unique understanding of the real estate industry makes them an invaluable resource for developers of all forms. They are able to effectively leverage their experience and expertise to lead negotiations, craft cost-effective and custom solutions and ensure imminent success by creating a solid foundation to build from.

- Real Estate Investment Executivev

What Our Clients are Saying...

Commercial evictions and tenant matters are ones that often need to be handled with a specific level of care. During a commercial removal process, I needed to obtain counsel and a colleague immediately referred me to Jimerson Birr. A successful ending to what would become a litigious journey was made possible by the firm’s extensive leasing knowledge and willingness to fight hard when it mattered most. We’ve encouraged our colleagues, owners and tenants to use them for their legal needs.

- President of Commercial Property Management Company

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr has handled contracting issues and litigation work for our technology company with headquarters on the First Coast. We’ve given them a wide variety of problems to solve, and they have handled quite a few issues, ranging from more complex matters relative to intellectual property  matters, services agreements, confidentiality and non-compete issues to helping us establish more focused operational policies that help us scale. Their extensive understanding of handling issues with the technology sector and steadfast insight on best practices has continually proven beneficial to our organization. When you put your trust in our Jimerson Birr, they will take a true hands-on approach.

- Software Development Chief of Operations

What Our Clients are Saying...

We brought in Jimerson Birr to contribute to our organization’s growth and focus. Their suite of abilities extends beyond law—this firm truly understands what makes a business tick. By working with Jimerson Birr, our management team was able to collaboratively build operational policies and procedures, craft specific risk management tools and, overall, reexamine the way we run our business to be more effective and profitable to further establish our place in the market. Any organization, whether established or in the early stages, can benefit from engaging this firm to help you create a stronger future for your business.

- General Manager of E-Commerce Company Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Recently, we started using them for litigation matters. They’ve always given practical advice and reported progress in ways that I could make key strategy decisions feeling informed. They promptly return emails and calls, they keep me updated and don’t require me to ask for an update, they don’t leave me surprised and they took time to learn the intricacies of our business. Their broad understanding of the litigation in any industry coupled with their sharp legal eye proved to be valuable during the times they advocated for our business needs and ensured that our interests were protected.

- General Counsel for Railroad Company Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Specialized, focused and efficient. The attorneys at Jimerson Birr proactively manage a wide range of matters for our company and their no-nonsense, laser-focused approach sets them apart from many other firms we’ve encountered in the past. They are quick to direct us towards our goals and help us prevent risk. When in need of quality legal counsel, this law firm gets the job done quickly and gets it done right. My highest recommendation goes to the experienced attorneys at Jimerson Birr.

- Director of Safety and Training for Trucking and Tanking Company Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr has performed litigation work for our bank and other banks we have worked at for many years. They have tackled some of the most challenging cases, ranging from complex foreclosures to bank and insurance fraud, to involuntary bankruptcies. Many of the cases required extensive industry and legal knowledge, and most all required unfriendly and lengthy negotiations or litigation. In each of those cases, JB did the necessary work, prepared in depth and we were successful without exception. I would highly recommend this firm for your litigation work, among many other service offerings.

What Our Clients are Saying...

Our attorneys at Jimerson Birr listen and take time to understand the nuances of our business and the risks we face with every deal or decision in a way that has earned them tremendous credibility. They thoroughly prepare us and put us in a position to anticipate our challenges rather than be surprised by them. Equally impressive and noteworthy is their great skill in negotiation and litigation. Great firm with great lawyers.

- General Counsel for Electrical Contractor

What Our Clients are Saying...

Jimerson Birr has provided representation for my business and our trade partners for many years. They have successfully defended our most complex cases, including project contracting, delay and payment claims, OSHA Citations, and bond surety disputes. Their industry-leading legal knowledge is a driving force during successful litigation and execution. They have my highest recommendation for any construction or business-centric legal needs.

- President of Large Commercial Contractor Testimonial

What Our Clients are Saying...

Professional. No hype, no blustering, no false promises, no stumbling around the issues. They listen, have quick command of the subject, provide sound advice going in, and get to the point. Preparation is their key. In an environment filled with pretenders, Jimerson Birr is a great example of what a quality legal practice can do for lenders of all forms.

- Chief Executive Officer of Mixed-Use Real Estate Specialty Lender

What Our Clients are Saying...

This firm does it all. They have been critical to ensuring that the governing documents and policies of our HOA are clear, complete and applied consistently. Through their industry expertise, they minimize risks of disputes amongst neighbors in our community, and when such disputes arise they are efficient and economical problem solvers. For years, this firm has provided prompt, personal and reliable legal services. Their professional and forward-looking approach has always given our board the tools and the answers it needs to be able to provide the best possible leadership to the Association that elected us.

- HOA President for 1,300 Home Community

What Our Clients are Saying...

This is my go-to firm when my associations need to get things done well and in a hurry. This firm is action oriented. They don’t sit around talking about it- they get it done. Whether that task is collecting fees and assessments, helping my boards make challenging decisions, or coaching the association to run like a properly functioning business, Jimerson Birr develops timely, winning strategies that reflect well on my company. My referral of this firm to my association customers is a reflection of our reputation, and this firm has earned my trust that they will not let us down or diminish our brand. Would highly recommend.

- President of Large Property Management Company


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