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A landlord issued a tenant a 3 day Notice for non payment of rent due 3/8/13  with a due date of 3/14/13.  On 3/26/13  the landlord filed an eviction for non-payment of rent.  The tenant was served on 3/30/13.  On  4/2/13  the tenant issued landlord a 7 day notice to perform repairs.  On 4/3/13  the tenant filed an answer and motion for rent determination and did not post any rent into the court registry.

The court set  the case for a rent determination hearing  on 4/8/13  and heard oral  testimony from the tenant, unsupported by any documentation,  concerning  alleged repair issues at  the  leased premises.

Counsel pointed out that  tenant’s  7 day notice had not matured even as of the date of the hearing, and thus landlord was still within his time frame  in which to effect the requested repairs before the tenant would have any entitlement to withhold future rent.   Further,   that  a 7 day notice issued in April   could have no bearing on tenant’s obligation to pay March rent.

The court was  presented with the case of Lee v. Schweizer , 7 Fla L. Weekly Supp 750a, County Court Sarasota 2000] which states that a “tenant may not take matters into his or her own hands and resort to the self-help of unilaterally withholding rent payments without proper notice.”     …   “a tenant may not raise a defense concerning the physical condition of the premises  without first having complied with the seven day notice requirement.”

Indeed, Section 83.60  “defenses to action for rent,”   requires  the tenant  to have issued a 7 day notice of non-compliance to the landlord in order to raise failure to make repairs as a defense to non-payment of rent.

As tenant’s 7 day notice had not matured prior to landlord’s 3 day notice,  tenant did not have a defense to the non-payment of the rent claimed in the 3 day notice. Thus,  tenant was obligated to post the amount claimed in the 3 day notice into the court registry to avoid an automatic default.

Cortleigh Apartments v. Thompson Case 13-6231 (52)  COCE,  Broward County.