Tenant deposited one month’s rent toward a prospective tenancy. Upon move in, the tenant was to tender an additional two months’ rent plus security, but only showed up with two months’ rent. The landlord rejected the partial tender and did not allow the tenant to move in. The tenant sued for his deposit.
The tenant argued 1) that the landlord was the one who breached the lease, because he did not allow him a chance to go to the bank and get the missing funds, and 2) the landlord never sent a certified letter claiming the deposit and thus had no right to claim it.
The court rejected both of these arguments 1) finding it was not credible that landlord did not give him a chance to tender the missing deposit, and 2) the requirement to send a certified letter claiming the deposit under Fla. Stat. §83.49(3)(a) did not apply for two reasons: a) as the deposit was a rent deposit, and not a security deposit, and b) because the tenant was in beach of the lease and thus not entitled to a written claim.
Entitlement to rent from a breaching tenant is governed by Florida Statute §83.595. The landlord’s options under the statute were to release the Plaintiffs from liability for any rent, or to hold the Plaintiffs liable for rent until the property is relet. The landlord argued that he was entitled to keep the entire rent deposit simply because of the breach of lease, but presented no evidence as to if and when the property was relet. As a result, the Court concluded that the landlord had failed to meet his burden of showing entitlement to the deposit and ordered it returned to the tenant.
TAYLOR, vs. EDRI, . County Court, 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County. February 4, 2013. Robert W. Lee, Judge. 20 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 727c.