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emailTenant occupied landlord’s premises under an oral month to month lease. On February 13 landlord e-mailed tenant a 15 day notice of non-renewal effective March 1 pursuant to 83.57 F.S. When the tenant failed to vacate, landlord filed for eviction and tenant defended on the basis that 15 day notice had not been “mailed” to him. The trial court ruled that the e-mail transmitted by landlord to tenant and acknowledged by tenant through a return e-mail satisfied the requirement set forth in §83.57 Fla. Stat. of 15 days notice to vacate by “mailing or delivery of a true copy” of the notice as set forth in §83.56(4), Fla. Stat.

§83.56(4) F.S. specifies that delivery of written notices shall be by mailing or delivery of a true copy thereof, or, if the tenant is absent from the premises, by leaving a copy thereof at the residence.

The tenant appealed and the appellate court found that the term “e-mail” is considered to be a form of “mail,” and is included within the definition of “mail” in Black’s Law Dictionary, Eighth Ed. (Thomson West, 2004): “mail, n. … 3. One or more written or oral messages sent electronically (e.g., through e-mail or voicemail).” Id. at 972, citing Cases: Telecommunications [key no.] 461.15. C.J.S. Telegraphs, Telephones, Radio, and Television §221.]

Accordingly, the court held that e-mail constitutes a mailing sufficient to satisfy a statutory requirement of a mailing of written notice, whenever a contract or course of dealing between parties establishes e-mail as a permissible means of notice, or whenever it is shown that the recipient received actual and timely notice through e-mail which is substantially the same notice as would have been provided in a writing mailed through conventional means.

Editor’s Note: if a 3 Day Notice is “mailed,” the recipient is entitled to respond by mail. Rule 1.090(e), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure provides the recipient five additional days to accomplish the mailing, which should be added to the due date on the “3 Day Notice.”  See Post office box rule  and Post office box rule revised

HARARI, vs. WHITFORD. Circuit Court,15th Judicial Circuit (Appellate) in and for Palm Beach County. May 25, 2007. Appeal from the County Court in and for Palm Beach County, Judge James L. Martz. 14 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 701a.

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