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Florida Appeals Court Rules that Palm Beach County Tenant Was Entitled to a Hearing About the Use of the Court Registry

While one always enters into a business relationship hoping and expecting the best, there are many ways that a commercial leasing arrangement can go wrong. There can be damage to the property, a failure to maintain the property or non-payment of rent. These and more can sometimes trigger a need for litigation. With commercial rent disputes comes the possible need for using the court registry. Whatever challenges your commercial lease dispute poses, make sure you’re prepared with experienced Florida commercial litigation counsel.

One recent South Florida case was just such a dispute between a commercial tenant and a landlord. The business relationship started with a tenant signing a commercial lease to operate a gym in a space in Palm Beach County. The lease dictated an amount of fixed rent the tenant owed. An additional section of the lease provided for some reduction to the tenant’s rent if the space encountered damage and the repairs to that damage impeded the operation of the tenant’s gym. Specifically, the lease stated that the rent “will be reduced proportionately to the extent to which the repair operations interfere with the business conducted on the Premises by Lessee.”

As fate would have it, damage did occur. The property encountered roof problems and, according to the tenant, water damage and debris from roof repairs harmed his business’ gym equipment.

As a result of these problems and the difficulty they inflicted on the gym, the tenant did not make full rent payments. The landlord responded by suing for an award of damages for nonpayment of rent, and for eviction. The tenant followed up by making a legal procedural maneuver. The tenant, on several occasions, asked the trial judge to hold a Section 83.232(2) hearing. Each time, the trial court refused. Instead, the trial court ordered the tenant to pay the full amount of rent, less whatever partial payments had already been made. The tenant refused and the trial court entered the order of eviction.

The tenant appealed and won. The appeals court ruled that the trial judge was wrong not to have held the Section 83.232(2) hearing. Section 83.232 of the Florida Statutes is a law regarding payment of sums of rent money into the registry of the court. That statute lays out several scenarios in which a court hearing is required to determine the amount of rent that should be paid into the court registry. One of these situations is when there is a question of what “properly constitutes rent under the provisions of the lease.”

In this tenant’s case, there was exactly such a dispute about what constitutes rent. The lease stated an amount of fixed rent, but then also stated that the tenant was entitled to a rent reduction in the event of damage. That meant that the true amount of fixed rent owed was the original flat sum less the reduction for damage. As a result, the trial court was required to hold a hearing and “make at least a preliminary determination of the reduction, if any, to which the tenant was entitled.”

For reliable advice and effective advocacy in all of your business litigation needs, contact the skilled South Florida business attorneys at Stok Folk + Kon. Our experienced team has been skillfully helping clients protect their business interests for many years.

Contact us online or by calling (305) 935-4440 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you.

More blog posts:

Uncertainty Surrounding the Identity of the Correct Landlord Allows St. Petersburg Tenant to Avoid Summary Judgment, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Sept. 8, 2017

Evidence in Commercial Lease Dispute Proved Tenant Was a Holdover and Had Not Renewed Lease, Florida Court Rules, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, July 28, 2017