Landlord filed an eviction complaint for possession only based on non-payment of rent. The three day notice indicated that it was served after the stated payment due date (the landlord had probably reversed the date served and the date due). The tenant posted the rent claimed, requested a rent determination hearing based on landlord’s failure to perform repairs demanded on a seven day notice, and moved to dismiss based on the defective three day notice. As another month went by, tenant posted the next month’s rent into the court registry pursuant to court order. Then landlord filed a motion for the funds in the court registry to be distributed to him. Before that motion was heard, the court granted tenant’s motion to dismiss for the defective three day notice.
At the post dismissal hearing to disburse funds, the court awarded part of the deposit back to the tenant, presumably as a reduction in rent for landlord’s failure to repair, and awarded the rest of the funds to the landlord.
The tenant appealed, and lost in the circuit court. The tenant appealed to the 4th District Court of Appeals and won. The appellate court ruled that the trial court lost jurisdiction upon the dismissal. As the landlord had not filed a damages count, the court did not have jurisdiction to decide the dispute over who was entitled to the funds in the court registry. Therefore all of the funds in the court registry must be returned to the tenant. The court made it clear that if the landlord had included a damages count, the court could have awarded the landlord the funds in the court registry, even though the landlord lost on the possession count. The court further noted, that because the law changed in 2013, a defective three day notice would no longer result in a dismissal. Under the new law, the landlord is now allowed to issued a new three day notice and file an amended complaint for eviction.