Are Florida courts processing Residential and Commercial Evictions in light of Coronavirus changes?
In a short answer, yes Eviction cases are still being processed. A lot of information has been put out recently regarding the Coronavirus and changes to court procedures both locally and nationally. According to published statements, the government’s concern is removing people from where they live at a time when the government authorities are recommending that people stay home when possible is counterproductive to help preventing the spreading of this virus. Landlords however are concerned that they still have to pay mortgages on the rental properties (even if mortgagees banks are lenient currently, the accruing monthly payment will still be due) and pay utility bills, make repairs when needed, and incur other expenses related to the rental properties, at a time when tenants are not paying the rent. So what is the status with the Florida courts and Evictions?
In South Florida, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County courts for example are still open, but not to the public. And Clerk of Court Offices are still operating but are also not open to the public. Our law firm files new eviction cases electronically so we do not have to go to the Courthouse in person. Most judges are still holding hearings, but doing so by telephone. An important part of our organized modern society is the ability to have access to the courts to resolve disputes. That need is still being filled by our Florida Courts. Certainly, having hearings by phone has its challenges, and there are some slowdowns in the processes right now. But the Courts and Clerk of Court are still progressing cases.
After the Court enters a final judgment for eviction, it is up the Clerk of Court to issue a writ of possession which directs the Sheriff of the county where the rental property is located to carry out the Eviction through the removal of the occupants of the rental property. As for the Sheriffs’ Offices, they have suspended the Eviction removals. The Sheriffs’ Offices are still open and receiving the writs of possession but not scheduling the actual Eviction removal. So landlords are still able to obtain final judgments for Eviction and have the Clerk of Court issue the writs of possession, and the writs of possession can be delivered to the Sheriff, but the writs of possession are going into a line and will be processed once the applicable Sheriffs’ Office resumes doing the Eviction removals. Thus, it is important for landlords to get in line so they can be returned possession of their rental property once Sheriffs Offices resume with the Eviction removals.
Public statements made by local and federal governments as set by HUD regarding evictions are actually applicable to properties backed by FHA-insured single-family mortgage loans in foreclosure or are being carried out by local Sheriffs Offices by their holding off on executing Eviction removals. These statements, some of which are being put into effect through directives that courts not enforce removals, specifically reference specific types of loans in default that result in foreclosures and evictions. The typical residential and commercial landlord can still serve eviction notices on tenants in default and proceed with Eviction cases. However, the process is slowed down to some extent, and the Sheriff’s Offices will place the writ of possession in line for processing the Eviction removal for now, until the Sheriffs’ Offices are able to proceed with returning possession to the landlord.
We do encourage landlords to do what they can to work with their tenants and attempt to resolve disputes. And cases that are in progress can still be settled with a settlement agreement that gets ratified by the applicable court so that the court can enforce what is agreed to. Contact our main office for more information at 877-573-8428