Arbitration and Eviction: A Recipe for Delay

By: James Walson.  Leases in an independent living component of an assisted living facility will often contain an arbitration provision.  Although arbitration can be helpful in reducing litigation expenses, arbitration can lead to significant delay in a tenant eviction if the language is interpreted to apply to the eviction of a non-paying tenant.  Florida law treats residents in an independent living facility (as opposed to an assisted living facility) as tenants governed by Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, and the courts are instructed to advance the eviction on the court calendar in order to expedite resolution of the eviction.  An ambiguous or overbroad arbitration provision can be interpreted to apply to an eviction.  The result is that an arbitration will take longer and be more expensive to resolve than a simple eviction.  It is important that the lease agreement in an independent living facility properly distinguish between evictions and other matter to which arbitration will apply.

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