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What Changed in New Foreclosure-Eviction Relief Executive Order?

The latest eviction/foreclosure ban by Gov. DeSantis changed a bit. In general, it limits the ban’s scope of protection to people financially harmed by the pandemic.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Before we jump into the current state of affairs regarding Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest eviction ban, let’s quickly review its short history. The original order, Executive Order 2020-94, instituted a ban on the eviction of tenants due to the COVID-19 crisis. It was put in place on April 2, and has since been extended to Sept. 1 through four subsequent orders.

The original order was quite broad in its scope stating, in part: “Section 2. I hereby suspend and toll any statute providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by residential tenants due to the COVID-19 emergency for 45 days from the date of this Executive Order, including any extensions.

As you can see, the highlighted portion above can be interpreted in any number of ways, given that the COVID-19 emergency is so far-reaching, and that has added to the frustration of many property managers. The good news is that the scope of the original order has been narrowed slightly in the governor’s latest extension, Executive Order 2020-180.

In this latest order, the governor limits the scope by saying, in part: “Section 2 of Executive Order 20-94 is amended to read, as follows: A. I hereby suspend and toll any statute providing for final action at the conclusion of an eviction proceeding under Florida law solely when the proceeding arises from non-payment of rent by a residential tenant adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency. B. For purposes of this section, adversely affected by the COVlD- 19 emergency means loss of employment, diminished wages or business income, or other monetary loss realized during the Florida State of Emergency directly impacting the ability of a residential tenant to make rent payments. C. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to suspend or otherwise affect eviction proceedings unrelated to non-payment of rent.

In the above highlighted portion of the latest order, you can see that the governor has attached some limitations to its scope to separate renters who have been legitimately harmed financially by the pandemic vs. those who are simply taking advantage of the situation. While this narrowed scope is not a complete solution to the problem, it does appear to show that the governor recognizes the harm the order is causing to landlords and property managers, and he’s attempting to do something about it.

Having said all of the above, the future of the state eviction moratorium has ties to actions happening at the federal level over the same issue. Florida, like many other states, is following the lead of the federal government as it relates to banning evictions. If it appears Washington, D.C., is taking steps to keep the ban on federally subsidized or federally backed housing in place, then Florida is likely to do the same.

NAR has been hard at work on this issue and Florida Realtors Public Policy office has been in contact with NAR to supply information and feedback they can use in their federal advocacy efforts. Last week, NAR issued a statement following the president’s actions to extend the federal eviction ban. That statement was preceded by a letter to President Trump that lays out the significant economic problems created by the ban, and outlines the steps needed to ensure all stakeholders are protected – such as lifting the ban and providing emergency rental assistance, along with other financial aid programs so people can meet their financial obligations during the pandemic.

Prior to NAR’s most recent actions, it has been routinely contacting members of Congress and leaders of federal agencies on the issue. A list of many of these documents can be found on NAR’s political advocacy website, under the “Forbearance, Eviction Moratoriums, Rental Assistance” section.

How does all of this impact Florida? At the state level, Florida Realtors Public Policy office continues to speak with senior members of the governor’s staff about the issue, sharing many of the hardships experienced by property managers and landlords, and urging the governor to let the eviction moratorium expire.

“I believe strongly that these efforts helped lead to the more narrow scope of the latest extension, and we will keep working the issue until the ban is lifted,” says Danielle Scoggins, Florida Realtors vice president of public policy. “Florida Realtors Legislative and Regulatory Research Think Tank has also directed Florida Realtors research staff to conduct an analysis of the eviction moratorium issue to determine how severely it is impacting the rental market.”

Scoggins says the national situation “is a bit more complicated given that the original federal ban was part of the CARES Act, and any true extension, as well as renter assistance, is going to be tied in with the next relief package Congress passes.” However, NAR has made it a top priority and will continue to push for relief for property owners and landlords to ensure their needs remain a part of the legislative conversation.

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