On September 4, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order that halts residential evictions for non-payment of rent against tenants who qualify for its protections through December 31, 2020.
It is important for landlords and property managers to understand that the law does not apply to commercial evictions, and that landlords can file evictions for lease violations, termination of month to month tenancies, nonrenewal of leases, and holdover tenancies. Landlords can still file evictions for nonpayment of rent, but should be aware that if the tenant gives the landlord or property manager a CDC Declaration which qualifies the tenant for protection, the landlord cannot move forward with the eviction until after December 31, 2020. Also, if a tenant serves the required Declaration before an eviction is filed, the Landlord cannot move forward with an eviction until after December 31, 2020.
To qualify for protection under the Order renters must swear under penalty of perjury that the following are true:
- The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
- The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
- Eviction would likely render the individual homeless— or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting— because the individual has no other available housing options.
A tenant does not qualify for protection under the Order if the tenant is:
- Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
- Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
- Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
- Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
- Violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).
The Order also does not apply to association lien foreclosure actions or lender foreclosures.
What does this mean for the landlord or property manager? You may be able to move forward with an eviction action for non-payment of rent as long as you have not received a Declaration, or another similar type of notice, as laid out above from the tenant.
If a tenant contests an eviction for non-payment of rent and a Declaration, or an Affidavit, substantially similar to the one above is filed or produced by the tenant, then your eviction will likely be stayed through the end of the year unless you can work out other arrangements. Landlords or property managers are not required to provide the Declaration to the tenant.
Please also note that courts and judges across Florida may have a variety of different interpretations of this moratorium and there is no guarantee that any eviction will result in possession being granted to the landlord until this moratorium as well as the Governor’s moratorium expires. With that in mind, landlords should move forward with evictions if the tenants are not protected by this order.