Update: Florida Narrows Evictions Ban and Extends it Through Sept. 1

July 31, 2020Alerts

On July 30, 2020, shortly before the state's eviction ban was scheduled to expire, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis again extended and updated his prior Executive Order 20-94, which restricts certain real estate evictions. Order 20-94 is now extended through Sept. 1, 2020, however Gov. DeSantis has attempted to narrow the relief previously provided.

Executive Order 20-94 suspends all statutes “providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action” for single-family residential mortgagor. For evictions, the Order states that residential tenants may not be removed for nonpayment, indicating evictions for other reasons are still in bounds.

The language of the July 30, 2020 Executive Order explicitly requires tenants and borrowers to begin repaying their missed rent or mortgages when they are “no longer adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency,” which the order defines as having experienced job loss or other income reduction directly attributable to the pandemic. Additionally the new executive order makes clear that nothing in the order “shall be construed as relieving an individual from his or her obligation to make mortgage payments or rent payments” and “all payments, including tolled payments, are due when an individual is no longer adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency.”

This new, narrower language is designed to address complaints from many property owners and landlords who have alleged that tenants and borrowers are refraining from or refusing to pay rent or mortgages even though they continue working or have not otherwise been financially impacted by COVID-19. This new version of the eviction moratorium may balance tenant protections with the needs of landlords/property owners who have repeatedly claimed that their tenants are taking advantage of the prior moratoriums. 

It will likely be left to the courts to determine if a tenant is “no longer adversely affected” by COVID-19. Cody McCloud, press secretary for Gov. DeSantis, stated “every situation is different, therefore judges should work with both landlords and tenants on an individual case basis to determine if a tenant’s inability to pay rent is a result of COVID-19.”

As a result of the change in the moratorium language, we expect to see an uptick in foreclosure actions being filed, and now served, claiming that tenants and borrowers are refusing to pay rent or mortgages for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.