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The landlord filed an eviction based on a 3 day notice that included late charges.  The lease did not define such charges as additional rent.  The tenant posted the amount claimed into the court registry and filed a motion to dismiss.   The court granted the motion to dismiss the eviction complaint based on the defective 3 day notice.  The landlord moved to  recover the funds in the court registry.  The county court awarded the landlord the funds in the court registry.

The tenant filed an appeal. The landlord did not respond. There was no transcript of the county court hearing.   The circuit court in its appellate capacity affirmed on the basis that § 83.61, Fla. Stat. (2012)., authorizes the court to disburse the funds in the court registry to the landlord,  if the landlord  is in actual danger of loss of the premises or other personal hardship due to loss of rental income.   Because there was no transcript of the hearing the appellate court stated that it was in no position to overrule the finding of the county court judge that the landlord actually faced such hardship.

RUIZ  v. THOMAS, Circuit Court, 17th Judicial Circuit (Appellate) in and for Broward County. Case No. CACE12-021665 (21). L.T. Case No. COCE12-012052. May 21, 2013.  20 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 885a

The tenant argued that the county court had no authority to award the money in the court registry to the landlord  because the defective 3 day notice deprived the court of jurisdiction.  The appellate court disagreed.  In Bell v. Kornblatt, 705 So. 2d 113 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) [23 Fla. L. Weekly D264a], the Fourth District held that a proper three-day notice was not essential to the county court’s subject matter jurisdiction over an eviction action, and thus, a landlord’s failure to substantially comply with statutory requirements would not deprive the county court of power to adjudicate the case. See Id. at 114. Therefore, the county court was not deprived of power to adjudicate the case even though Landlord’s three-day notice failed to substantially comply with section 83.56(3), Florida Statutes. See § 83.56(3), Fla. Stat. (2012).

The Court also disagreed with tenant’s contention that the disbursement of the funds to Landlord was contrary to the applicable law. Pursuant to Section 83.61, Florida Statutes, when a tenant has deposited funds into the court registry, and the landlord is in actual danger of loss of the premises or other personal hardship due to loss of rental income, the landlord may apply to the court for disbursement of all or part of the funds in the registry. See § 83.61, Fla. Stat. (2012). Upon such an application, section 83.61, Florida Statutes, authorizes the court, after preliminary hearing, to award all or any portion of the funds on deposit to the landlord or proceed immediately to a final resolution of the cause. See Id. Therefore, pursuant to section 83.61, Florida Statutes, the county court is authorized to disburse funds on deposit to Landlord and proceed to a final resolution of the underlying matter. See Id.

The appellate court cannot resolve the underlying factual issues for the benefit of Tenant in the absence of a transacript.1 See Applegate v. Barnett Bank of Tennessee, 377 So. 2d 1150 (Fla. 1979) (“When there are issues of fact the appellant necessarily asks the reviewing court to draw conclusions about the evidence”). Without a transcript, the Court “cannot review whether the [county] court’s judgment is supported by the evidence.” Applegate, 377 So. 2d at 1152. “Without knowing the factual context, neither can [this Court] reasonably conclude that the [county court] judge so misconceived the law as to require reversal.” Id.

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  1. The issues of fact are whether “the landlord is in actual danger of loss of the premises or other personal hardship due to loss of rental income.” § 83.61, Fla. Stat. (2012).
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