Pandemic Eviction Restrictions [updated 7/21/2020]
Due to the pandemic and continuing restrictions on court proceedings and eviction laws, we wanted to give our clients a resource to help you stay informed of the most current restrictions and how they affect your property.
Right now there are several restrictions keeping evictions on hold, including Florida Governor’s Executive Order 20-94 and extensions, the Federal CARES Act, a Florida Supreme Court Order, and several local orders and policies. A brief description of each follows:
1. The Florida Governor’s Executive Order 20-94 is the broadest restriction. It suspends all eviction statutes giving rise to a cause of action for possession based upon non-payment of rent of a residential tenancy until July 1st, 2020. [Update 7/1//2020, The Florida Governor has extended this suspension until 8/1/2020 @ 12:01am.]
2. Section 4024 of the CARES Act restricts eviction proceedings for “covered properties” for 120 days, or until, at the earliest, July 25th, 2020. A “covered property”, though more fully defined by the Act, generally includes any property with a federally backed mortgage or a property that receives federal tax incentives or benefits*. This restriction also prevents a “notice to vacate” from being posted until the restriction expires and increases the notice period to 30 days. As the Act went into effect on the 27th of March, the first date we can file a lawsuit for a “covered property” would be August 25th, 2020.
3. The Florida Supreme Court Order AOSC20-23 has been extended until July 6th, 2020. This order suspends the requirement for Clerks of Court to immediately issue a writ of possession pursuant to a court order. This means a Clerk may, but does not have to, issue a writ of possession in an eviction matter (or any matter involving possession of real property) until July 6th, 2020. Though this order is worded to give clerks an option to issue, or not to issue, a writ of possession, many clerks are holding all writ of possession based on this order. [Update 6/8/2020, The Florida Supreme Court issued a termination date of June 30th, 2020 for this suspension.]
4. There are several local court restrictions on evictions as well. Some are explicit; the Eighteenth Circuit explicitly suspended all possession of property cases through May 29th, 2020; and, several circuits issued administrative orders regarding the Supreme Court’s writ of possession requirement suspension. Some counties have chosen to stop processing evictions but have not expressed an explicit policy. And, we’ve had one court simply modified its final judgment to extend the issuance of the writ of possession to comply with any Florida Supreme Court restrictions. [Eighteenth Circuit restriction (Seminole and Brevard Counties) has been extended to August 31st, 2020]
5. However, even if you are able to get a case processed and concluded with a writ of possession issued, many, if not all, Sheriffs in Florida have put a hold on all writ of possession executions, meaning they are not posting the “24 hour notice” or physically removing anyone from a residence.
All of these restrictions are applicable as of today June 5th, 2020. Any of them may be extended depending on the further impacts of the pandemic. As we have seen, the Governor’s order has been extended twice now. In general, it looks like it may take a while for the process of regaining possession of rental property from a delinquent tenant to normalize.
In the meantime, we are reviewing all the restrictions and keeping tabs on what we can do and when. We know many of our clients have not received rent from some of their tenants in several months and are anxious to get the process started. We are hear to help you get prepared and to help with any questions you may have.