We feel that a judge ignored the PTFA, and ordered us to vacate before the end of our lease, even though we clearly have a lease protected under the PTFA that is bona fide in all aspects, as are we bona fide tenants. Its a small town with an old bubba network, and I think he just gave his buddy what he wanted. How do I appeal this? or get him to reconsider? What motions would I make?
Old Bubba-- sounds quite nefarious. These are really good questions, and this is like trying to explain how to do neurosurgery on a sprinting football running back. I'm serious-- this is really tricky stuff. I've done it quite a bit, and I'm going to give you some pointed direction if I can. These are ideas--not legal advice--because it's really impossible at present to know where you are procedurally in your case.
1. Sounds like there's a judgment and you may or may not have answered the Complaint if in fact you were probably a Defendant (even as a tenant).
2. You MUST go see an attorney skilled in foreclosure, PTFA, and landlord-tenant (Chapter 83 Fla. Stat) right now. GET A CONSULT NOW. If an attorney won't give you a free half hour consult, then either pay for it or go to the next lawyer.
3. Depending on your position, you might have to pony up a little cash to have a Motion for Rehearing filed, but you need some new grounds and/or new evidence under which a court (not likely) will grant a re-hearing. The question remains--what was heard--was that a Summary Judgment where the judge in ?? Monroe County said kill the lease? EEEK that's bad.
4. Did I say see a lawyer yet-- now?
5. If there is a final judgment, you can also consider filing a Notice of Appeal with both the District Court of Appeal and the Circuit Court. It costs money to do this, and it's better if you can figure out how to get relief in the Circuit Court First. You have probably less than thirty (30) days now to do this (I can't recommend this without a detailed consult); and I don't like doing this unless I exhaust all possible remedies in the Circuit Court.
6. There is also a Florida Rule of Civil Procedure that I use often, 1.540(b), or Motion for Relief From Judgment. You have to move, possibly, to set aside the judgment.
7. Since there has been a federal law possibly violated-- some dogged attorneys might figure out another tribunal or court to remove this to for relief (but I'm not recommending that either).
So, in summary: (1) Get the right lawyer now--whether local or not; (2) get all your papers to that lawyer and ask for some advice. Pay for that advice because $100 to $250 right now is money well spent to get the best advice. (3) ask if you should do a motion for rehearing or a motion for relief from judgment. (4) ask to clarify your appeal rights and timelines.
Keep asking questions and don't give up. I would stay put until you get all your questions asked. Bubba might not win this one if you chomp down a little.
NOT LEGAL ADVICE--FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. We don't know the facts and this is not legal advice. Seek the advice of licensed property law attorneys immediately so they can secure your rights. Hiring an attorney is a serious and important decision. Please ensure that you take the time necessary to evaluate and interview more than one attorney to determine whom to hire.
I agree with Attorney Halpern above. Just make sure to file your motion for rehearing within 10 days of the Order to Vacate. In the Motion, try to outline PTFA provisions giving you the right to remain in the home as bonafide tenants. Some judges are not educated on this issue, so try to get a copy of the PTFA law handy to quote from. It goes without saying that hiring a lawyer is highly advisable, if you think it makes monetary sense to you.
DISCLAIMER NOTICE-- The above is a general response to the questions posed. This is in no way intended to create an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You are advised to seek the assistance of legal counsel for a complete review of your case and specific answers to your questions.
I agree with the other attorneys' answers. One thing to keep in mind is that even under the PTFA, if the new owners wish to live in the property as their primary residence, they still have to give you 90 days notice, but they do not have to let you finish out your lease if you have more than 90 days left on it.
This answer is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. There may be relevant facts not included in the question that could change this answer. For specific advice, please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.
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