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A Tenant Must Pay Rent into the Registry of the Court to Assert Any Defense - Even That the Default Notice Was Defective

Florida law has suddenly become crystal clear that a tenant cannot get out of depositing rent into the Court Registry merely by arguing that the landlord's default notice is someone defective. Commercial and residential tenants alike have attempted to delay their inevitable eviction by claiming that the default notice (which is usually required prior to instituting an eviction case) was defective in form or manner of service.

Unfortunately, several county and circuit judges in the state have adopted this argument and reasoned that the court either lacked jurisdiction to proceed in the absence of a valid default notice or that the condition precedent of a valid default notice needed resolution before the action could be considered valid, thus excusing the deposit of rent into the court registry. Several trial judges have refused to follow this misguided reasoning and, following Bell v. Kornblatt, 705 So.2d 113, 114 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998), have held the notice requirement is unnecessary to establish subject matter jurisdiction and have required the payment of rent into the court registry if the "defective notice" argument was to be maintained by the tenant. Of course, most tenants are unable to deposit the rent into the court registry (since that is the very reason they find themselves in an eviction action) and the failure to do so results in an immediate judgment of possession against them.

The final answer was handed down on December 1, 2010 wherein the Fourth District Court of Appeal in the case of Myron Alphesus Stanley, Inc. v. Quest International Investment, Inc., 2010 WL 4861722 (Fla. 4 th DCA Dec. 1, 2010), held that, even if the tenant asserts a defense that the default notice is defective, it must deposit all money alleged to be due and owing into the court registry or else all of its defenses will be deemed waive and the landlord shall be entitled to a default judgment of possession.

This case should finally put to rest the erroneous arguments made in virtually all landlord tenant disputes and streamline the process.

Alex P. Rosenthal, Esq.