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In an eviction for non-payment of rent, the tenant defended with a motion to determine rent.  The motion to determine rent was not based on an allegation that the amount claimed by the landlord was incorrect,  but upon the landlord’s failure to maintain the premises.    The court noted that in order for the tenant to challenge the amount of rent due because of landlord’s failure to maintain the premises,  the tenant must first have sent the landlord a seven day notice.   The notice must be in writing, giving the landlord seven days to cure.  Landlords may rely on written notice of complaints of a specific nature, but must then act within seven days to accomplish compliance with the statute.    The tenant is required to  issue a seven day notice in order to commence a process wherein the tenant may withhold rent payments.   The tenant ,may not take matters into his own hands and resort to the self-help of unilaterally withholding rent payments without property notice.  Determining that a reduction in rent registry payments could be permitted where no statutory seven day notice was delivered merely delays the necessary inevitable frustration of the tenant’s defense as well as underlying basis for such a reduction.  Thus the tenant was ordered to deposit the full amount of the rent into the court registry.

Lee v. Schweizer , 7 Fla L. Weekly Supp 750a, County Court Sarasota 2000]

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