Residential Evictions and Foreclosures in the Age of COVID-19
Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the daily lives of Americans, interrupting many of our social, economic and personal habits and routines. When it comes to the economic impact, some of South Florida’s most important industries have been faced with extreme challenges – ranging from the tourism and hospitality industries to the retail sector. Of course, the backbone of these industries are the individuals who work in them, many of whom have come to be faced with challenging and stressful economic circumstances and considerations over the past few months.
Given that shelter is considered a basic requirement, residential home security and stability is obviously a key to overall stability and physical and emotional health. According to a recent report in the South Florida SunSentinel, one third of Floridians reported missing a rent or mortgage payment last month, based on a United States Census Department Survey, and the same fraction of residents anticipated being unable to make their rent or mortgage payments this month.
For now, based on an Executive Order issued by Governor DeSantis on June 30th, 2020 (which extended three prior similar executive orders), evictions currently pending in Florida are on hold until the end of the month (specifically, until 12:01 am on August 1, 2020). The Governor’s order specific suspends and tolls:
- any law that provides for a mortgage foreclosure action
- any law that provides for an eviction cause of action if it relates to nonpayment of rent by residential tenants due to the COVID-19 emergency
The Governor’s June 30th Executive Order provides relief for now for well over
2500 Floridians whose evictions are currently pending in the state, according to the SunSentinel.
In addition, for properties covered by certain federal mortgage and rent programs and subsidies, there is a federal moratorium against foreclosures and evictions. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended their moratorium on foreclosures and evictions for single-family mortgages until at least August 31, 2020. The foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages only. Also, under the federal CARES Act, Act imposes a temporary moratorium, through July 24, 2020, has been imposed on evictions for tenants living in housing accommodations covered by the law, which, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), includes most tenants in federal subsidized or federal backed housing.
Under normal procedures, absent the COVID-19 pandemic and the moratorium on evictions, landlords whose tenants are delinquent on rental payments can send then the landlord can give the tenant a “three-day notice,” which gives the tenant an option of either paying overdue rent or leaving the premises. If the tenant does not either pay overdue rent or leave, Florida law generally allows the landlord to file an eviction suit after the three days have passed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of state and federal laws designed to provide relief to citizens struggling economically in these challenging times. If you are a tenant, homeowner or landlord, and have questions about the application of any of these laws, contact Sweeney Law to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale real estate lawyer.