Photo of Scott Beatty

Scott concentrates his practice in the areas of civil and commercial trial litigation, including business torts, real estate litigation, construction and lien law litigation, contract disputes, collections, foreclosures and title insurance claims.

In addition, he represents insurance carriers, third party administrators, and employers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims. Scott also handles appellate cases throughout the State of Florida. He is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, as well as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Scott holds an AV® Preeminent™ rating by Martindale-Hubbell. He was selected as one of Gulfshore Business Magazine’s and Business Observer's (f/k/a Gulf Coast Business Review's) top 40 Under 40. The 40 Under 40 list recognizes bright, young business leaders, executives and professionals under the age of 40 who live and work in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.

(As published in the “Roundtable” in the July 2020 Issue of Suite Life Magazine)

While residential tenancies have many terms and protections set out in the Florida statutes that cannot be waived, the same cannot be said about commercial tenancies. As a result, the general rule of thumb is that if a condition or situation is not addressed by your commercial lease, the Florida statutes will be of no use.

Thus, commercial property owners and landlords should always strive to use the most comprehensive lease agreement with their tenants. Below are some of the most common “absent provisions” that have come back to bite a commercial landlord.

Tenant Improvements

Your lease should be specific about which party has the authority to approve all plans and hire the contractors. The lease should also contain very specific information about the payment of any tenant improvement allowance (lump sum versus payment in the form of rent abatement) and the timing of such payment.

Casualty Loss

In the event of a casualty (fire, storm, etc.), the lease should state who is entitled to the insurance proceeds. There should be deadlines within which the landlord or tenant are required to make repairs, and there should always be a provision that addresses whether a lease may be terminated in the event of a casualty that renders the property unusable.

Non-Monetary Default


Continue Reading Commercial Leasing: The Devil is in the Details

On April 2, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-94 (“E.O. 20-94”), which addressed mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief. In the preamble (i.e., the “whereas” section), the Governor recited that the Federal Housing Administration implemented an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for FHA-insured single-family mortgages for at least 60 days, and recited that the Federal Housing Finance Agency similarly directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for Enterprise-backed single-family mortgages for at least 60 days. Based on those Federal moratoriums, Gov. DeSantis issued E.O. 20-94.

The language of E.O. 20-94 states:

  • Section 1: I hereby suspend and toll any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action under Florida law for 45 days.
  • Section 2: I hereby suspend and toll any statue providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by resident tenants due to the COVID-19 emergency for 45 days.
  • Section 3: Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed as relieving an individual from their obligation to make mortgage payments or rent payments.


Continue Reading COVID-19: Mortgage Foreclosure and Eviction Relief

Almost all residential real estate contracts in Florida provide that either the buyer or seller (or, in some cases, both) is entitled to seek the remedy of specific performance.

What is specific performance?

Specific performance is an equitable remedy that forces the other party to perform under a contract, provided that party seeking performance (i.e., the plaintiff) is ready, willing and able to comply.

In most instances, the remedy of specific performance is brought by a buyer, who asks the court to order the seller to convey the property in exchange for the purchase price stated in a contract. The court’s judgment can serve as a valid transfer of the property, much like a deed.

Historically, and especially during the crazy real estate boom of the early 2000s, specific performance claims against buyers were rarely pursued. In fact, many sellers were happy to have a buyer back out, since it usually meant that the seller could sign a new contract with a new buyer at a higher price.

Impact of a declining real estate market on specific performance claims


Continue Reading Residential Real Estate Contracts: The Hidden Surprise of Specific Performance

Lease.jpg“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “Penny-wise, pound foolish.” “A stitch in time saves nine.” Few would doubt the universal application of these time-honored pearls of wisdom. Yet when it comes to legal documents, common sense goes by the wayside.

Contract? What Contract?

As a litigation attorney, there have been instances too numerous to count where a potential client calls me about a legal problem. When I ask to review the contract or document at issue, I’m usually met with a response that there is no document or, if there is one, it was not drafted by an attorney. The client then spends thousands of dollars in legal fees correcting a problem that should have been avoided in the first place.


Continue Reading Commercial Leasing Best Practices

iStock_000019598645_MediumWith increasing frequency, I am receiving calls from people who want to remove someone from possession of a residence owned by the caller. Invariably, the caller insists that the possessor should be evicted, but upon closer inspection, the claim really isn’t an eviction action. In this post, I will explore the three similar, but distinct, actions available for possession of real property in Florida.

Eviction

Probably the most familiar claim for possession is one for eviction. In its most basic form, an action for eviction results when the occupant of the property has failed to pay rent to the property owner. Florida Statutes Chapter 83 governs actions for eviction. An action for eviction requires a landlord-tenant relationship. That relationship is typically established by showing that the property owner and occupant have signed a lease agreement for the property. Even in the absence of a written lease, a landlord-tenant relationship can be established by showing that the tenant made periodic rent payments (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, etc.) for the privilege of occupancy. Keep in mind that rent need not be money, but in certain circumstances may be goods or services. If there is no landlord-tenant relationship, then there cannot be an eviction. An eviction action proceeds under an expedited (summary) procedure, so a plaintiff usually can obtain a judgment of possession within 60 days.

Ejectment


Continue Reading What Options Do Owners Have to Take Possession of Real Property in Florida?

I know what you’re thinking. No sensible person would ever pay twice for a construction project. But the following scenario is, unfortunately, an all-too common reality for many property owners:

One day, you’re enjoying the view from the bay windows of your recently completed home addition (or newly constructed home). A small taste of buyer’s remorse begins to fill your mouth, but with a sip of coffee, you quickly cast it aside, knowing that the minor fortune you just paid to your contractor is well worth it. A knock on the door brings your mind back to the present. As you glide across the shiny new hardwood floor and open the door, you are met with a sharply dressed man who, after confirming your identity, hands you a stack of papers and leaves. The words on the papers are filled with legal mumbo-jumbo, but you understand enough to know that a masonry company is suing you for payment, and threatening to foreclose its claim of lien if you do not pay. Certain that this must be a mistake, you call your contractor. Your heart sinks when you hear the dreaded message: “The number you have reached is no longer in service….”

In Florida, the same law that protects construction lienors (contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers and laborers) also protects owners by putting limits on their liability to those very same lienors. Property owners can limit their exposure by ensuring that all payments made to the contractor are “proper payments.” By only making “proper” payments, an owner’s liability will not exceed the contract price (i.e., an owner won’t have to pay twice). To ensure that a payment is a “proper” payment, an owner should follow these general guidelines:

Before making any payment to the contractor, make sure to:
Continue Reading How to Pay Twice for Your Construction Project