Governor Desantis decided not to renew the eviction moratorium, which has been in place since April of this year. That executive order, renewed month after month, prevented landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent.
How Have Evictions Worked During COVID-19 So Far?
Practically speaking, as an attorney who regularly represents landlords, apartment complexes, and property management companies, at the beginning of the moratorium, the courts were reluctant to enter final judgments of eviction or issue writs of possession at all.
Over time, courts became more comfortable issuing writs of possession when the case was unrelated to non-payment of rent. With news that the State of Florida is advancing the re-opening process, it is not surprising that the eviction moratorium has not been renewed.
What Tenants Are Still Protected from Evictions?
Of course, as I alluded to in the opening, relief for landlords is not absolute. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an Order that prevents evictions for non-payment of rent if individuals fill out a declaration and swear to certain facts.
The assertions that must be sworn to are reiterated below:
- I have used the best effort to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- I either expect to earn no more than $99,000.00 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the US Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
- I am unable to pay my full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual's circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; If evicted, I would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence share by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options;
- I understand that I must still pay rent or make a housing payment and comply with other obligations that I may have under my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. I further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected;
- I further understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, my housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made before and during the temporary halt, and failure to pay may make me subject to eviction according to State and local laws;
- I understand that any false or misleading statements or omissions may result in criminal and civil actions for fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment.
If the declaration is filed, it will halt evictions until December 31, 2020. It is important to note that the CDC order will not apply to actions against the tenant unrelated to non-payment of rent. Therefore, if a tenant has breached the lease agreement or Florida statute, the CDC order should not stall or foreclose such actions.
If you're engaged in a property dispute, our lawyers for real estate matters can help. Contact our office online or give us a call at (239) 970-6844 for a free case evaluation so you can begin to move forward with your case.