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Commercial Tenant Must "Pay to Play" the Game of Litigation

In yet another affirmation of the strength of the Florida Landlord Tenant Act, the Fourth District Court of Appeal recently held that a commercial tenant's failure to pay accruing rent into the court registry during the pendency of an eviction proceeding provides an automatic non-discretionary basis to immediately evict the tent. In Poal Wk Taft, LLC v. Johnson Medical Center Corp, 2010 WL 3782103 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010), the court order the trial court to enter a judgment of possession against a commercial tenant who failed to timely pay the accruing rent during the case. The Landlord had instituted an eviction action for nonpayment of rent. The trial court entered an order directing the tenant to pay the past due rent into the court registry pursuant to Fla. Stat. 83.232 when due under the terms of the Lease. The tenant made the first payment, but failed to make the second monthly rent payment into the court registry. The tenant argued that it had a grace period under the Lease for rent payments. When the Landlord moved for judgment of possession, the trial court deferred ruling until it could hold an evidentiary hearing. The Landlord appealed. On appeal, the appellate court held that the trial court had no discretion to deny Landlord's request. The court held that the payment into the registry is required to be made "when due" and did not permit the tenant to take advantage of a grace period.

The case is a powerful tool for commercial landlords who seek possession of their premises and find themselves having to litigate with tenants who attempt to avoid paying while the case remains pending.

Utilizing this mechanism and others make obtaining possession of commercial leased premises on an expedited basis possible in Florida.

Alex P. Rosenthal, Esq.