Sometimes a dispute between a commercial landlord and tenant involves the amount of rent the tenant actually owes when factoring in CAM expenses. (CAM expenses are common area maintenance expenses or a landlord’s operating expenses that are passed on pro rata to the landlord’s tenants). The landlord, however, cannot evict a tenant when the tenant argues and correctly claims it had been overpaying the rent.
In Maida Vale, Inc. v. Abbey Road Plaza Corp., 96 So.3d 1027 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012), an issue was whether the tenant overpaid CAM expenses under its commercial lease because the landlord was billing the tenant at a higher pro rata percentage than the lease required. Stated differently, the tenant claimed the landlord overcharged the tenant in CAM expenses. Whether a landlord is entitled to evict a tenant and whether the tenant “actually paid more rent to [its] landlord than was due under the lease had to be considered in tandem and that a landlord cannot be entitled to eviction where a tenant has, in fact, overpaid rent.” Maida Vale, 96 So.3d at 1030.
This is an important concept because in an eviction proceeding, the tenant may likely claim, through a defense or counterclaim, that it overpaid rent. “[W]here a tenant’s counterclaims or affirmative defenses overlap or are ‘inextricably interwoven into’ the issues that must be decided in the eviction action, it is error to rule upon the eviction claim without resolving the matters raised by the tenant.” Maida Vale, 96 So.3d at 1030. This means that a court should not grant a landlord’s eviction claim without simultaneously determining a tenant’s claim, such as overpayment of rent, that is intertwined with the eviction proceeding. Such defense or counterclaim by the tenant that is inextricably interwoven with the landlord’s eviction proceeding cannot be segregated and decided separately.
Please contact David Adelstein at email@example.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.