Tenant defended an eviction for non-payment of rent on the basis that landlord’s habitual acceptance of late payments estopped landlord from evicting the tenant without giving an additional notice that late payment would not be accepted.
Testimony revealed that the Defendant consistently made late payments for years throughout the course of her tenancy. Tenant testified that she had received Three Day Notices in the past for failing to pay rent on time but has never been evicted and that late payments were accepted by management on numerous occasions, including accepting payments after the service of three day notices. The landlord did not provide Defendant with additional notice that late payments would no longer be accepted.
Courts have held that if the landlord has a pattern of constantly accepting late payments after giving the tenant notice that late payments would no longer be accepted, then the landlord may be estopped from evicting the tenant without additional notice that late payments will not be accepted. Heggs v. Haines City Community Dev., 2 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 137a (10th Cir. App. 1994)
The court ruled that the landlord’s actions would cause a reasonable lessee to believe that the lessor did not intend to enforce the default and that therefore landlord should be “equitably estopped” from evicting the tenant for late payment of rent. Vines v. Emerald Equipment Company, 342 So.2d 137 (Fla. 1st DCA 1977).
TIGER BAY OF GAINESVILLE LTR, vs. OWENS,. County Court, 8th Judicial Circuit in and for Alachua County. Case No. 01-2013-CC-002434, Division IV. November 18, 2013. Phillip A. Pena, Judge. 21 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 344a