Plaintiff filed an eviction for non-payment of rent and obtained a writ of possession after defendant failed to post the amount claimed into the court registry. Defendant vacated, but later defended against the damages count, alleging that he was not a tenant but a buyer under an oral installment sales contract. The evidence showed that Defendant paid five monthly payments of $461.05 and then stopped making payments because the parties could not agree on a written contract. The court ruled that purchase contracts are not governed by Florida Statute Chapter 83, the landlord tenant act. An installment sale is considered to be a mortgage under Florida Statute 697.01, which states “All conveyances, obligations conditioned or defeasible, bills of sale or other instruments in writing conveying or selling property, either real or personal, for the purpose, or with the intention of securing the payment of money, whether such instrument be from a debtor to the creditor or from the debtor to some third person in trust for the creditor, shall be deemed and held mortgages, and shall be subject to the same rules of foreclosure and to the same regulations, restraints and forms as are prescribed in relation to mortgages”. Consequently, the court ruled that the County Court did not have jurisdiction to hear an eviction which should have been filed in Circuit Court as a foreclosure. As there was no proper cause of action for eviction, there was no requirement for the defendant to post “rent” into the court registry. The writ and and order of possession were quashed, and the court ordered possession of the premises restored to the defendant.
TARDIF vs. HAAKE. County Court, 3rd Judicial Circuit in and for Columbia County, Civil Division. Case No. 13-648 CC. October 3, 2013. Tom Coleman, Judge. 21 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 73a