The Governor of Florida’s Executive Order regarding evictions has officially expired. The CDC’s Agency Order limiting evictions for non-payment of rent is in effect until December 31, 2020, however, this Order does not apply to all evictions in Florida. Unless matters change, currently the CDC Agency Order only protects residential tenants from being evicted for the non-payment of rent through December 31, 2020. if the tenant meets certain qualifications. Even if the tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent, the tenant must swear under penalty of perjury that they meet the guidelines and criteria as set forth in the Order in order to fall under the protection of the moratorium. At this time, Florida landlords have the ability to progress an eviction for non-payment of rent if they have not received a CDC Declaration form from their tenant.  For the most part, court hearings are not being held in person at this time but are proceeding via telephone or virtual hearings.  

What options do Florida landlords have for non-paying residents?  

  1. 3-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate – Landlords can continue (or resume) sending 3-day notices, as long as the resident has not submitted a CDC Declaration.   
  2. Notice of Non-renewal – a notice of non-renewal is a document drafted by a landlord or by a tenant giving the other party sufficient notice that the current rental agreement will not be renewed for another term.  It is important to look at your rental agreement to see how much notice must be given to the other party if it is decided there will be no new term. A notice of non-renewal can be for any reason as long as it is NOT made for discriminatory purposes. Courts are seeing more and more non-renewals at this time. Pursuant to Florida Statute 83.575, the rental agreement may not require more than 60 days’ notice from either the tenant or landlord regarding non-renewal.  
  3. Violation of Lease (7-Day Notice)– landlords may also give a tenant a seven-day eviction notice if a tenant violates their lease. Examples of lease violations include damaging the property, noise violations, unauthorized pets, and illegal activities. Most violations require the landlord to send a notice with opportunity for the tenant to cure.  If the tenant fixes the lease violation within the seven days and then does the same or similar violation within a twelve-month period, the landlord can evict the tenant without giving them the opportunity to remedy the violation.  If the tenant does not cure the initial violations the landlord can file the eviction without further notice.  The landlord does not have to give rights to cure for certain deliberate acts of the tenant.  Florida Statute 83.56(2)(a) states “[e]xamples of noncompliance which are of a nature that the tenant should not be given an opportunity to cure include, but are not limited to, destruction, damage, or misuse of the landlord’s or other tenants’ property by intentional act.” 

What part of the eviction process is still the same and what has changed?  

For the most part, the eviction process is the same, with the exception of the CDC Order. Even if a tenant has filed a CDC Declaration, landlords can still challenge the truthfulness of a tenant’s declaration. In some cases, they might even have proof that the resident does not meet all the requirements in the Order. For example, if they have evidence that the resident is employed and working or that the Tenant has just purchased an expensive non-essential item.  In a typical eviction process, if a tenant does not respond to the summons, the court will then enter a final judgment of eviction and the landlord would be entitled for the clerk to issue a Writ of Possession, which grants the police the power to physically remove the tenant from the property, along with their belongings, after giving the tenants 24 hours’ notice. At this time, the sheriff in Miami-Dade County is not allowed to execute Writs of Possession   

How has the timeline changed as a result of the pandemic?   

The timing to carry out an eviction varies from county-to-county, though on average, most cases are taking around 30 days to complete. The timeframe to complete an eviction ultimately depends on the individual situation and the type of tenant the landlord is dealing with.  

What specific documentation do landlords need to start the process?  

Landlords need the following documents to pursue an eviction:  

  • Notice provided to tenant (3 day, 7 day, or non-renewal)  
  • Copy of lease  

In some cases, they may need different type of documentation if the tenant has rent due prior to July 27, 2020. In these cases, they could be subject to the CARES Act.   

There has been a lot of confusion over the last 7 months created by the different federal, state, and local eviction moratoriums. With this being said, the Courts are starting to get back into the typical process and over time, things will become increasingly more normal.