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LandlordTenantAnswer
LandlordTenantAnswer, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 23952
Experience:  Landlord-Tenant Disputes, Leases, Evictions, Foreclosures.
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Customer Question

I would like to have a question answered by someone who is familiar with FLORIDA law. I happen to be in Broward County.
I just realized that the Answer my tenant provided to the court contains the defense of payment based on work he did for me in exchange for rent. His catalog of hours is over the top--example: 20 hours to clean my car interior--which he admits he didn't finish; 14 hours to paint a 20 sf section of counter-top. It also contains untruths--example: he mowed the lawn for 3 months, when he mowed the lawn 1 time and I only bought the lawnmower last month. In short he claims I owe him $700+ (He failed to note the $500 rent I forgave as payment toward this claimed amount.)
So, I already filed a motion to strike his answer because he did not file a motion to have the court determine rent. I realize that will fail because his answer asserts payment.
Now for my actual question to you: I am considering filing a Motion for Default and Default Judgment for his failure to put the accrued rent ($500) into the court registry on July 1st. Does the fact that he claims I owe him $700+ make it unlikely this motion will succeed? Can I file this motion tomorrow if it is appropriate or do I have to wait until the result comes back on his Answer?
Is there anything else ( I know about all the standard forms already.) strategy-wise that could help? Thanks in advance!
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
By the way, The tenant appears not to have mailed me the copy of his Answer. (I read it online.) How is this handled?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
One more thing. What about when he still hasn't paid anything by August 1st, if the motion is not likely to be successful for July, might it be successful in August?
Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 4 months ago.

Good morning. Was there ever an agreement for him to do these things in exchange for rent?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I allowed him to work his rent off in order to help him get over what I thought was a rough patch. So, yes.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
By the way, good morning to you too.
Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 4 months ago.

A motion for default/default judgment is filed when a party fails to respond to your complaint. If they have filed an answer or a responsive pleadings, then they would not be defaulted. There is a very specific process that needs to be followed when withholding rent and the Florida Statute below advises when this can even be done. Moreover, this is an issue about the value of his services and if they equate to the rent which he owes. He is claiming he did X work and that equals to Y but you are saying that it is not. You can file a response and look to strike his defenses if they are not properly plead but he may still be able to amend them, if needed. Now, if you no longer want to keep the work for rent agreement, then you would need to give him at least a 15 day notice advising of the same and if he refuses to pay the demanded rent, you can evict on that basis as well, since he would be holding over. 83.201 Notice to landlord of failure to maintain or repair, rendering premises wholly untenantable; right to withhold rent.—When the lease is silent on the procedure to be followed to effect repair or maintenance and the payment of rent relating thereto, yet affirmatively and expressly places the obligation for same upon the landlord, and the landlord has failed or refused to do so, rendering the leased premises wholly untenantable, the tenant may withhold rent after notice to the landlord. The tenant shall serve the landlord, in the manner prescribed by s. 83.20(3), with a written notice declaring the premises to be wholly untenantable, giving the landlord at least 20 days to make the specifically described repair or maintenance, and stating that the tenant will withhold the rent for the next rental period and thereafter until the repair or maintenance has been performed. The lease may provide for a longer period of time for repair or maintenance. Once the landlord has completed the repair or maintenance, the tenant shall pay the landlord the amounts of rent withheld. If the landlord does not complete the repair or maintenance in the allotted time, the parties may extend the time by written agreement or the tenant may abandon the premises, retain the amounts of rent withheld, terminate the lease, and avoid any liability for future rent or charges under the lease. This section is cumulative to other existing remedies, and this section does not prevent any tenant from exercising his or her other remedies.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I am sorry, but you seem to be answering some other question. Thanks for trying, but I will withdraw my question from you. Have a good day.
Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 4 months ago.

It appeared as though there were different parts to your question so I attempted to narrow it down to clarify what you were asking about, so you could see what he was doing was not proper and to provide information about terms and the process.

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