by Ricardo L. Gilmore, Esq., Shareholder, Saxon, Gilmore, Carraway & Gibbons, P.A.
Published in FAHROgram, July/August 2013

Rgilmore2-cropped-sI enjoyed seeing those of you who attended the annual Executive Directors’ Forum last month. During the session I conducted, I mentioned that even though FAHRO was not as successful as we would have liked with getting significant proposed legislation passed by the Legislature, at least one significant change passed during this session. House Bill 0077 (2013) made it through the House and the Senate, and Governor Scott signed it into law on June 7. This bill changes parts of Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, which is the landlord-tenant statute. The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Even though the bill makes many changes to aspects of Chapter 83, F.S., I want to concentrate on three significant changes to Section 83.56. As you are no doubt aware, the current subsection 83.56 (5) states:

If the landlord accepts rent with actual knowledge of a noncompliance by the tenant or accepts performance by the tenant of any other provision of the rental agreement that is at variance with its provisions, or if the tenant pays rent with actual knowledge of a noncompliance by the landlord or accepts performance by the landlord of any other provision of the rental agreement that is at variance with its provisions, the landlord or tenant waives his or her right to terminate the rental agreement or to bring a civil action for that noncompliance, but not for any subsequent or continuing noncompliance. Any tenant who wishes to defend against an action by the landlord for possession of the unit for noncompliance of the rental agreement or of relevant statutes shall comply with the provisions in s. 83.60(2). The court may not set a date for mediation or trial unless the provisions of s. 83.60(2) have been met, but shall enter a default judgment for removal of the tenant with a writ of possession to issue immediately if the tenant fails to comply with s. 83.60(2). This subsection does not apply to that portion of rent subsidies received from a local, state, or national government or an agency of local, state, or national government; however, waiver will occur if an action has not been instituted within 45 days of the noncompliance.

Under this subsection, as it currently is applied, if a housing authority accepts partial rent from a resident with full knowledge that it is not for the full amount due, the housing authority waives the right to terminate the rental agreement or to bring a civil action for eviction. The application of this law discourages housing authorities from accepting partial payments from residents. The change proposed in the bill provides that a landlord does not waive the right to terminate a rental agreement or to bring a civil action for noncompliance by accepting partial rent. If accepted, the landlord must provide the tenant with a dated receipt for the partial payment and, if eviction is sought, place the partial payment in the court’s registry, or supply another notice of eviction. The bill does not specify if this change applies only to acceptance of partial rent in nonpayment of rent cases only, or if it applies also to any noncompliance with the rental agreement for which eviction is sought.  Read more…

 

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