Landlord and tenant entered into a lease for residential real property on the following terms: First months rent $5500, Advance rent for 11 months $60,500, Security Deposit $5,500, Pet Deposit $500. All payable at lease inception.
Four months into the lease, landlord received complaints from neighbors about a wild party and inspecting the property found significant damage to the rental unit. Landlord issued a notice of lease termination and tenants vacated. The landlord did not return any monies to the tenant and the tenant sued for their security deposit and for the return of “advance rent” paid to landlord. The trial court found that the $38,500 of the rent paid for the balance of the lease term was “advance rent” and refundable, and that as the landlord had not made a written claim on the security deposit, that too was refundable. The court awarded landlord a setoff for $3,524.15 in damages to the unit.
On appeal, the court ruled that there was no “advance rent,” but rather the parties had entered into an annual lease with one annual payment. Section 83.43(9) defines “advance rent” as “moneys paid to the landlord to be applied to future rent payment periods, but does not include rent paid in advance for a current rent payment period.” The court went on to state that “even if this were advance rent, the landlord still would have been entitled to retain the unused portion of the money. In Florida, if a lessee pays rent in advance and the lease is properly terminated by the lessor, then the lessor is not required to return the advance rental payment, citing Wagner v. Rice, 97 So.2d 267 (Fla.1957).
The appellate reversed the refund of the $38,500 advance rent back to the tenant, but upheld the return of the security deposit less damages.
ATLANTIS ESTATE ACQUISITIONS, INC., v. DePIERRO, 125 So.3d 889 (Fla 4th DCA 2013)