A landlord and tenant entered a lease-option to pay rent and have some of that money applied to purchasing the property; but the landlord filed for eviction.
The trial court ruled that an eviction is not the appropriate remedy where the occupant of the property has equity in the property. See e.g., Ward v. Estate of Ward, 1 So. 3d 238 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) [34 Fla. L. Weekly D28f]; Toledo v. Escamilla, 962 So.2d 1028 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2007) [32 Fla. L. Weekly D1876a]. In amending s. 83.42 Fla. Stat. in 2013, the legislature set a bright line for distinguishing tenants from buyers. See McKinney v. Dickson, 21 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 175a (Lake Co. 2013).
While the county court may determine whether a tenant/buyer has equity in the property, Section 26.012(g) Fla. Stat. grants exclusive jurisdiction to the Circuit Court in actions involving title to real property/ejectment. Thus, landlord’s proper cause of action was an ejectment in circuit court, not an eviction in county court, and the case was ordered transferred to circuit court for further proceedings.
Harner vs. Carter, County Court, 7th Judicial Circuit in and for Volusia County. October 6, 2014. 22 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 462a.