Despite notice, Florida tenants can’t be evicted during governor’s moratorium on evictions

Attorney suggests tenants contact landlord to work out alternative arrangements

On April 2, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order suspending evictions and foreclosures for 45 days amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some residents in Orlando say that despite that order they’re still receiving eviction notices from their landlords.

Michelle Hinden is a Central Florida attorney specializing in residential and commercial real estate law. She said while landlords can still send out eviction notices, they won’t be executed until the moratoriums are lifted.

During News 6's digital town hall Thursday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings explained that the county is following that order.

“Evictions can’t be processed further by the clerk or served by the sheriff. What I’m saying to you is, there is no mechanism to evict people in the state of Florida. That won’t last forever, those property owners will be able to get their money,” Demings said.

With $1,200 COVID-19 federal stimulus checks going out this week, some people said they are concerned that landlords are expecting them to use that money for rental payments. Hinden said there may be certain instances where the money may need to be used for an ill family member or to support children, and landlords can’t force tenants to use that money to pay for rent. However, she said tenants are still contractually obligated to pay their rent and any back rent they owe.

“I can’t think of anything that would permit a landlord to have any claim to any of those funds unless they had some sort of garnishment order in place, and I feel like that would have been done way before this event anyway,” Hinden said.

Hinden says if you are financially strapped right now, talk to your landlord. They may be understanding and able to work out an alternative payment agreement.

"Landlords may have certain obligations themselves that they have to comply with, so the tenant might not even realize the landlords themselves have issues they're worried about which is why they're trying to collect on rent. I like to say, contact your landlord, explain what the situation is. If it's a COVID-19 situation, provide documentation that you were furloughed or laid off or your business shut down. Explain the circumstances," said Hinden.

Hinden wants tenants to remember, they will eventually have to pay for rent they owe.

“Obviously once this moratorium has lifted, they can proceed with evictions. And once the eviction is filed, tenants have only about five days to deposit any of those back-dated funds into the registry. You may find yourself in a situation where you have to come up with the back rent quickly and you want to be in a good position with your landlord,” she said.

Hinden said if you work out a payment plan with your landlord, be sure to get the details of the agreement it in writing with signatures.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.