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 with only limited access to the public. For example, in Broward County, the Clerk’s office are limited to certain days and times for public access. While there are some closures and while some court offices are not at full staff, the Clerk of Offices are still operating. Our law firm files new eviction cases electronically so we do not have to go to the Courthouse in person. Most judges are holding hearings, but doing so by telephonic appearances. 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.
At this time Florida Governor’s has signed a Fourth Executive Order extending the suspension on residential evictions solely for nonpayment of rent August 1, 2020, 12:01 am. Accordingly, at this time, residential evictions based on nonpayment of rent cannot be filed in Court. While eviction filings based on residential non payment of rent cannot be filed at this time, we will be closely monitoring to see if the Governor lifts the suspension on residential eviction based on non payment of rent as of August 1. If yes, we will restart preparing and filing these such evictions. In the meanwhile, the Courts are open and evictions that are exempt from the Governor’s moratorium such as Commercial Evictions for any reason, Residential evictions based on nonrenewal notices, notices to cure, as well as notices of termination can proceed to court and are not affected by the Governor’s suspension. Additionally, other types of possession actions such as unlawful detainer and ejectment actions are permitted to proceed in court and not affected by the Governor’s suspension.
Accordingly, all eviction matters that are not prohibited by the Governor’s Executive Order can proceed to final judgment of possession in our Florida Courts. 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, at this time they are starting to resume scheduling removals of evictions, with the exception of residential evictions based on nonpayment of rent. The Sheriffs’ Offices are still open and receiving the writs of possession for evictions, with the exception of residential evictions based on nonpayment of rent. So landlords are still able to obtain final judgments for Eviction (with the exception of residential evictions based on nonpayment of rent) 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 federal suspension on evictions are applicable to properties backed by federal backed mortgages. Accordingly, evictions that involved properties with federally backed mortgages. These types of evictions will not be able to proceed in Court until August 31, 2020 and when they do start 30 day notices of nonpayment of rent will be required. The typical residential and commercial landlord with properties that are not backed by federal funding such as Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, VA, or FHA can still serve eviction notices on tenants and proceed with evictions, as long as those eviction matters are not exempt by the Governor’s current Executive Order.
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