Florida Senate - 2021                                     SB 412
       By Senator Rouson
       19-00367-21                                            2021412__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to residential tenancies; amending s.
    3         44.102, F.S.; requiring that courts in a judicial
    4         circuit in which a residential eviction mediation
    5         program has been established refer matters involving a
    6         residential eviction to mediation; amending s. 83.56,
    7         F.S.; deleting provisions requiring a residential
    8         tenant defending against specified actions by a
    9         landlord to comply with provisions requiring payment
   10         of accrued rent to the registry of the court, to
   11         conform to changes made by the act; amending s. 83.59,
   12         F.S.; restricting availability of a specified summary
   13         procedure in actions where a landlord is seeking to
   14         recover possession of a residential unit; amending s.
   15         83.60, F.S.; removing the requirement that a
   16         residential tenant defending against a landlord’s
   17         action for possession pay accrued rent to the registry
   18         of the court; repealing s. 83.61, F.S., relating to
   19         the disbursement of funds in the registry of the
   20         court, to conform to changes made by the act;
   21         providing an effective date.
   23  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   25         Section 1. Paragraph (e) is added to subsection (2) of
   26  section 44.102, Florida Statutes, to read:
   27         44.102 Court-ordered mediation.—
   28         (2) A court, under rules adopted by the Supreme Court:
   29         (e) In circuits in which a residential eviction mediation
   30  program has been established, shall refer any matter involving a
   31  residential eviction to mediation.
   32         Section 2. Subsection (5) of section 83.56, Florida
   33  Statutes, is amended to read:
   34         83.56 Termination of rental agreement.—
   35         (5)(a) If the landlord accepts rent with actual knowledge
   36  of a noncompliance by the tenant or accepts performance by the
   37  tenant of any other provision of the rental agreement that is at
   38  variance with its provisions, or if the tenant pays rent with
   39  actual knowledge of a noncompliance by the landlord or accepts
   40  performance by the landlord of any other provision of the rental
   41  agreement that is at variance with its provisions, the landlord
   42  or tenant waives his or her right to terminate the rental
   43  agreement or to bring a civil action for that noncompliance, but
   44  not for any subsequent or continuing noncompliance. However, a
   45  landlord does not waive the right to terminate the rental
   46  agreement or to bring a civil action for that noncompliance by
   47  accepting partial rent for the period. If partial rent is
   48  accepted after posting the notice for nonpayment, the landlord
   49  must:
   50         1. Provide the tenant with a receipt stating the date and
   51  amount received and the agreed upon date and balance of rent due
   52  before filing an action for possession;
   53         2. Place the amount of partial rent accepted from the
   54  tenant in the registry of the court upon filing the action for
   55  possession; or
   56         3. Post a new 3-day notice reflecting the new amount due.
   57         (b) Any tenant who wishes to defend against an action by
   58  the landlord for possession of the unit for noncompliance of the
   59  rental agreement or of relevant statutes must comply with s.
   60  83.60(2). The court may not set a date for mediation or trial
   61  unless the provisions of s. 83.60(2) have been met, but must
   62  enter a default judgment for removal of the tenant with a writ
   63  of possession to issue immediately if the tenant fails to comply
   64  with s. 83.60(2).
   65         (c) This subsection does not apply to that portion of rent
   66  subsidies received from a local, state, or national government
   67  or an agency of local, state, or national government; however,
   68  waiver will occur if an action has not been instituted within 45
   69  days after the landlord obtains actual knowledge of the
   70  noncompliance.
   71         Section 3. Subsection (2) of section 83.59, Florida
   72  Statutes, is amended to read:
   73         83.59 Right of action for possession.—
   74         (2) A landlord, the landlord’s attorney, or the landlord’s
   75  agent, applying for the removal of a tenant, shall file in the
   76  county court of the county where the premises are situated a
   77  complaint describing the dwelling unit and stating the facts
   78  that authorize its recovery. A landlord’s agent is not permitted
   79  to take any action other than the initial filing of the
   80  complaint, unless the landlord’s agent is an attorney. The
   81  landlord is entitled to the summary procedure provided in s.
   82  51.011, and the court shall advance the cause on the calendar.
   83         Section 4. Section 83.60, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   84  read:
   85         83.60 Defenses to action for rent or possession;
   86  procedure.—
   87         (1)(a) In an action by the landlord for possession of a
   88  dwelling unit based upon nonpayment of rent or in an action by
   89  the landlord under s. 83.55 seeking to recover unpaid rent, the
   90  tenant may defend upon the ground of a material noncompliance
   91  with s. 83.51(1), or may raise any other defense, whether legal
   92  or equitable, that he or she may have, including the defense of
   93  retaliatory conduct in accordance with s. 83.64. The landlord
   94  must be given an opportunity to cure a deficiency in a notice or
   95  in the pleadings before dismissal of the action.
   96         (2)(b) The defense of a material noncompliance with s.
   97  83.51(1) may be raised by the tenant if 7 days have elapsed
   98  after the delivery of written notice by the tenant to the
   99  landlord, specifying the noncompliance and indicating the
  100  intention of the tenant not to pay rent by reason thereof. Such
  101  notice by the tenant may be given to the landlord, the
  102  landlord’s representative as designated pursuant to s. 83.50, a
  103  resident manager, or the person or entity who collects the rent
  104  on behalf of the landlord. A material noncompliance with s.
  105  83.51(1) by the landlord is a complete defense to an action for
  106  possession based upon nonpayment of rent, and, upon hearing, the
  107  court or the jury, as the case may be, shall determine the
  108  amount, if any, by which the rent is to be reduced to reflect
  109  the diminution in value of the dwelling unit during the period
  110  of noncompliance with s. 83.51(1). After consideration of all
  111  other relevant issues, the court shall enter appropriate
  112  judgment.
  113         (2) In an action by the landlord for possession of a
  114  dwelling unit, if the tenant interposes any defense other than
  115  payment, including, but not limited to, the defense of a
  116  defective 3-day notice, the tenant shall pay into the registry
  117  of the court the accrued rent as alleged in the complaint or as
  118  determined by the court and the rent that accrues during the
  119  pendency of the proceeding, when due. The clerk shall notify the
  120  tenant of such requirement in the summons. Failure of the tenant
  121  to pay the rent into the registry of the court or to file a
  122  motion to determine the amount of rent to be paid into the
  123  registry within 5 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal
  124  holidays, after the date of service of process constitutes an
  125  absolute waiver of the tenant’s defenses other than payment, and
  126  the landlord is entitled to an immediate default judgment for
  127  removal of the tenant with a writ of possession to issue without
  128  further notice or hearing thereon. If a motion to determine rent
  129  is filed, documentation in support of the allegation that the
  130  rent as alleged in the complaint is in error is required. Public
  131  housing tenants or tenants receiving rent subsidies are required
  132  to deposit only that portion of the full rent for which they are
  133  responsible pursuant to the federal, state, or local program in
  134  which they are participating.
  135         Section 5. Section 83.61, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  136         Section 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.