Time’s Up: Florida’s Ban on Evicting Delinquent Tenants Has Lapsed
Upon the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 on March 9, 2020, and declared a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida.
In addition, Gov. DeSantis entered Executive Order 20-94 on April 2, 2019. Per the Order, the Governor barred evictions and halted the capacity of Florida landlords to initiate eviction proceedings against their tenants for failing to pay rent. That Executive Order was originally set to lapse on May 17, 2020 but was extended five (5) times by the Governor.
While Executive Order 20-94 barred a landlord’s ability to evict delinquent tenants, it did not relieve the tenant of their financial obligation to the landlord under their respective lease agreements. As such, even though the landlord could not take any legal action against a non-paying tenant, the tenant still owed the rents accruing every month.
After being in effect for nearly six (6) months, the eviction moratorium lapsed on October 1, 2020. Although the “Florida eviction ban” has come to an end, landlords must also ensure compliance with a newly mandated Federal Order recently enacted by the Central for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).
The CDC Order, which applies nationally, halted residential evictions in order “to prevent the further spread of COVID-19”. The Order, which is in effect until December 31, 2020, states that landlords may not evict their tenants for failing to pay rent if the tenant qualifies for relief under the CDC’s order. One major difference, between Florida’s Executive Order 20-94 and the Federal restriction is that, in order for the CDC protection to apply, the tenant must submit an executed declaration form, stating that they have experienced a “substantial loss of household income” and have made their best efforts to “seek government assistance for housing”. This declaration must be made under penalty of perjury.
Subject to the CDC Order, landlords throughout the state may now pursue eviction proceedings against those tenants who have failed to pay all required rents. In addition to seeking eviction relief, landlords can also sue their tenants to recover all delinquent rents which may have accrued over the course of the tenancy.
Since a surplus of eviction filings is likely to hit Florida’s courts system soon, landlords are encouraged to act immediately to protect their rights.