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yorickThe Florida landlord tenant statute excludes “transient occupancy in a hotel, condominium,  motel, rooming house, or similar public lodging, or transient occupancy in a mobile home park.”  F.S. 83.42(3) from the act.   But courts have held that if  an occupant stays in a hotel long enough he is transformed into a tenant.

In  FLEMING vs. KIRTIBHAI HARIBHAI MASTER, a/k/a Harry Master and LAXMI PARTNERSHIP,  Court, 4th Judicial Circuit in and for Duval County. Case No. 2011-SC-1400, Division D. June 7, 2011  18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 688a,   Fleming resided at the Scottish Inn in Jacksonville for almost two years.    The Scottish Inn was a Hotel and regulated under Chapter 509.   Fleming  originally paid by the day, and then changed to paying two weeks in advance.  On February 18, Flemming fell behind on the rent and the management deactivated his key card so that he could not access his room or recover his possessions.

Fleming sued the Inn under the landlord-tenant statute for unlawful eviction.  The court stated that the Chapter 509, a summary procedure locking out guests only applies to a transient occupancy.  When it is the intention of the parties that the occupancy will not be temporary  it is  “non-transient.” There is a rebuttable presumption that, when the dwelling unit occupied is the sole residence of the guest, the occupancy is nontransient.” § 509.013(15), Fla. Stat. In this case, Room 123 at the Scottish Inn was Fleming’s sole residence for almost two years. In addition, the Scottish Inn was aware of his long term status as they had stopped charging sales tax after six months.  The court found that Fleming was a “nontransient” occupant at the Scottish Inn and not subject to the summary removal procedures of Chapter 509.

In housing non-transients, hotel  owners are placed under the same obligations as a residential landlord  even in the absence of a written lease for a specific period. E.g. § 83.57, Fla. Stat. (requiring advance written notice before ending a tenancy of indeterminate length). Failure  to comply with the procedures of Chapter 83 for removal of a non-transient occupant will result in the damages of 3 months rent for a lockout  under  Section 83.67, Florida Statutes, Prohibited Practices.

In  CHANDLER, v.  CONE,  Broward County. Case No. 95-11412 (56) COCE. July 28, 1995, 3 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 369a,   an occupant of sixteen months paying week to week  in a licensed hotel was also declared to be non-transient as  she  “considered it her home.”  The court stated that the term “transient” is defined as “occupancy when it is the intention of the parties that the occupancy will be temporary.’

In another case a hotel employee  who had resided at a hotel as part of the compensation of her employment  for only a month was held to be a non-transient because her intention was to reside there as her sole residence indefinitely.   FREPPON, , vs. LAKELAND HOSPITALITY INC. d/b/a CROSSROADS MOTOR LODGE, County Court, 10th Judicial Circuit in and for Polk County. Case No. 2005CC-000230-0000-00. May 13, 2005. 12 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 783a.

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