COVID-19 and Evictions-What Tenants need to know
Many counties in Florida are taking steps to help protect Tenants during the Covid-19 crisis. Each of the 67 Florida counties have different procedures in place regarding evictions. Here are the answers to some of the important questions you need to know if you are a Tenant that is behind on your rent.
THE GOVERNMENT SAID THAT MY LANDLORD CANNOT EVICT ME, IS THIS TRUE?
No. This only applies to properties relating to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is a limited number of cases and do not involve most landlord tenant cases. To see if your case fits into the narrow scope of HUD housing please see: https://www.hud.gov/press/press_re- leases_media_advisories/HUD_No_20_042
CAN MY LANDLORD FILE AN EVICTION ACTION AGAINST ME?
Yes, your Landlord can still file an eviction action against you. The different counties have approached the Covid-19 crisis differently. Some counties have suspended all eviction actions for the time being. Some are allowing the Landlords to file the eviction paperwork. Depending on which county you are located, you may be required to deposit your overdue rent into the court registry and the rent due every month thereafter.
IF I GET SERVED WITH AN EVICTION I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING?
The Courts are still open and operating on a limited physical capacity. This means that Landlords are still filing evictions, the Tenants still have to respond timely AND MUST CONTINUE to put the rent money in the registry. All legal deadlines are still in place. Thousands of evictions are still being filed in the State of Florida. If you fail to respond to the Eviction Complaint within five (5) days after service of process, the Court can enter a default against you followed by a Final Judgment of Eviction.
IF MY LANDLORD FILED AND EVICTION AGAINST ME DO I HAVE TO DEPOSIT MONEY INTO THE COURT REGISTRY?
It depends on the county you are located in and which judge your case was assigned to. Every county has its own procedures and to make it more confusing, each judge has their own policies in place as well. Under normal circumstances, if you are served with an Eviction Complaint, you MUST deposit the rent into the Court Registry or the Court will enter a Default against you and shortly thereafter a Final Judgement of Eviction. Some coun- ties are still accepting deposits into the Court Registry. Contact us if you have any question how to make your deposit into the Court Registry.
WILL THE SHERIFF COME AND KICK ME OUT FOR NOT PAYING THE RENT?
No. The Courts in all Florida counties have suspended the issuance of “writs of possession” until April 17, 2020. See https://www.floridasupreme- court.org/content/download/632431/7186205/AOSC20-17.pdf
What the suspension of the issuance of “writs of possession” means is that if the Court has entered a judgment of eviction against you, the Landlord cannot force you to move out of the property. The “writ of possession” is the legal order allowing the Landlord to ask the sheriff’s office to force you out of the property. This does not mean that you do not have a Final Judgement of Eviction against you.
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