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Florida’s Moratorium on Evictions Extended Until August 1, 2020: What Are Landlords’ Options?

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As over 2,600 evictions are waiting to be processed in Florida courts, Gov. Ron DeSantis decided to extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until August 1, 2020. The executive order was issued just hours before Florida’s moratorium on evictions would have expired on July 1, 2020, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Without the order, tenants across Florida would have to face the risk of losing their homes as thousands of landlords across the Sunshine State have prepared the paperwork to evict tenants in anticipation of the moratorium’s end.

COVID-19: More Than a Third of Floridians Do Not Pay Rent 

The Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that more than a third of Floridians complained that they had missed May’s rent or mortgage payment. Others said they would not be able to pay the next month’s rent.

Nearly 50% of those surveyed said they lost employment, while one in eight complained that they did not have enough to eat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, Gov. DeSantis announced that $120 million from the federal CARES Act would go to provide rental assistance, according to a separate report by the Orlando Sentinel. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has previously extended a single-family moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until August 31, 2020.

Also, another $120 million is set to be distributed to counties to provide rental assistance. The distribution will be based on the counties’ unemployment rate.

Florida Landlords Have Filed Over 2,600 Evictions 

Even though Florida’s moratorium is still in place, landlords across the state are actively preparing to evict tenants who fail to pay rent. According to the report, landlords have filed at least 2,672 residential and commercial evictions since April. Thousands more evictions are expected to be filed after the moratorium ends.

Of these, Miami-Dade County accounts for the largest number of evictions (572), followed by Hillsborough County with 559 evictions and Palm Beach with 392. As Florida’s moratorium is in place, there has been a dramatic increase in the so-called “self-help” eviction, which is when a landlord forces out a tenant who does not pay rent by:

  • Changing the locks;
  • Turning off electricity or water; and
  • Refusing to make repairs.

These and any other actions intended to force out a tenant are considered unlawful in Florida. Florida’s law may not be on the tenant’s side when facing eviction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the Florida Statutes Section 83.232, tenants facing eviction are required to pay the rent due into the court registry. Without it, the tenant will not be able to get a hearing. Also, under the Florida Statutes Section 83.60, “the landlord is entitled to an immediate default judgment for removal of the tenant” if the tenant fails to pay the rent due within five days.

For tenants who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were not able to earn a living since the beginning of the crisis, this would mean having to pay months of rent.

If you are a tenant facing eviction due to your inability to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic or you are a landlord who is considering filing for eviction, speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Our West Palm Beach landlord-tenant litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig, LLP, will review your case and advise you on your legal options. Call at 561-291-8298 for a consultation.

Resources:

orlandosentinel.com/coronavirus/jobs-economy/os-bz-coronavirus-mass-evictions-loom-20200625-wlvbznzk3bgntc2ukfnrco55uy-story.html

orlandosentinel.com/coronavirus/jobs-economy/os-bz-coronavirus-desantis-rent-moratorium-extension-20200630-vu33f4rkofetldxao5f3hceriq-story.html

https://www.turnpikelaw.com/how-can-florida-landlords-make-living-spaces-habitable/

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