THE EVICTION MORATORIUM IN FLORIDA, JUNE 2021 UPDATE
Updated: Jun 28
Note: On June 24, 2021, the CDC extended the Moratorium until July 31, 2021. For a copy of the most recent CDC Declaration as of June 25, 2021, click on the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/EvictionDeclare_d508.pdf.
Current as of June 15, 2021.
This post discusses the current state of the Federal Eviction Moratorium in Florida (the “Moratorium”), which was originally implemented by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) on September 4, 2020. It is set to expire on June 30, 2021, unless changed or extended. Specifically, this post discusses the Moratorium, the status of the Federal Cases to overturn the Moratorium, and the status of rental assistance in Florida.
For a more detailed overview of the Moratorium and the requirements for tenants unable to pay rent to qualify for protection, click on the following link to see our May 2021 update on the CDC Moratorium:
EVICTION MORATORIUM SET TO EXPIRE
Once more, both landlords and tenants are counting the days until the expiration of the Moratorium, which is set to expire on June 30, 2021. Florida's eviction moratorium expired last October. To the frustration of landlord and tenants, if the announcements regarding past moratorium deadlines are any indication, landlords and tenants probably will not find out if the Moratorium will expire until the last minute.
If the Moratorium is not extended or replaced, millions of renters could be facing eviction, which could lead to an eviction and homelessness crisis of historical proportions. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, approximately 15% of renters in the U.S. have fallen behind on rent. This means that tens of millions of renters are at risk of being evicted. It could also frustrate the government’s efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19, the rationale behind the implementation of the Moratorium.
The number of cases in the U.S. have greatly diminished in past months. On June 15, 2021 the U.S. reported only 12,580 new Covid-19 cases. This leaves doubt as to whether the spread of Covid-19 has subsided enough for the government to determine it is time to allow the Moratorium to expire. There is also the open question as to what plan the government would have in place to address the fallout. One would hope that if the government intended to allow the Moratorium to expire, that they would provide early notice so that those affected would have time more to prepare.
STATUS OF FEDERAL CASES
SEEKING TO OVERTURN THE EVICTION MORATORIUM
In courts around the country, various landlord groups have challenged the constitutionality of the Moratorium. In the case of Alabama Association of Realtors v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, No. 20-cv-3377 (DLF) (D.C. May 5, 2021), a Federal Court ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its legal authority when it imposed the nationwide moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent. The U.S. Justice Department immediately sought an appeal. On May 14, 2021, the Federal court stayed its ruling pending appeal, determining that there was a sufficient risk of irreparable harm if the CDC order did not remain in place.
On June 2, the U.S. Appeals Court of the District of Columbia, the highest court to consider the Moratorium to date, disagreed with the lower court that the Justice Department’s appeal of the District Court’s ruling was unlikely to succeed on appeal and stayed the lower court’s ruling. On June 3, 2021, the Alabama Association of Realtors appealed the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. Notably, the Association’s appeal stated that because of the Moratorium, U.S. Landlords have been losing over $13 billion dollars every month. As of June 15, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will hear the case.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE IN FLORIDA
Earlier this year, the Federal Government gave Florida $1.4 billion dollars in emergency rental assistance. In order to qualify for rental assistance, which is usually paid directly to the landlord in exchange for agreeing to not evict their tenant(s) for a certain period of time, the tenant(s) must qualify under the CDC’s eviction declaration (the “Declaration”), and then submit a copy of the sworn Declaration to the landlord. The tenant(s) must also use their best efforts to apply for rental assistance.
Generally, in order to qualify under the Declaration and for rental assistance, the tenant(s) must have lost employment, experienced a diminishment of income, or experienced financial hardship due to Covid-19. The tenant(s) must also be at risk of homelessness is they are evicted.
To see the full requirements for a tenant who cannot pay rent to qualify under the Declaration, click on this link for a copy of the Declaration that is current as of June 15, 2021:
Tenant(s), however, must note that qualifying for protection under the Moratorium does not currently prevent the landlord from filing an eviction; it only prevents courts from entering a final judgment for eviction. In some courts, the Moratorium allows for a final judgment but prevents the the issuance of a Writ of Possession (the legal order that would allow the local Sherriff to execute the actual removal of the tenant from the premises).
Additionally, the Moratorium does relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent, all of which may be due once there is no longer a moratorium in place. Rent owed, however, would not include any of the tenant's rent that has been paid by a rental assistance program to a landlord on behalf of a tenant.
In conclusion, these are difficult and confusing times for landlords and tenants. The status and implications of various Federal and state moratoria has been confusing and in a state of flux for well over a year. Moreover, Florida's courts have refrained from publishing opinions regarding the evictions involving the various moratoria, other than addressing the constitutionality of the Moratorium.
Whether a landlord or tenant, if you have questions or require legal assistance, you can contact the Bress Law Firm, PLLC. Our contact information is below. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can call a local legal aid agency to see if you qualify for their assistance. Either way, in these confusing times an attorney can help you protect your rights and defend your interests.
CURRENT AS OF JUNE15, 2021.
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Michael N. Bress, Esq. is the managing partner at the Bress Law Firm, PLLC. The BRESS LAW FIRM, PLLC is located at 2980 NE 207th St., Suite # 300, Aventura, FL 33180, but serves clients throughout Miami-Dade & Broward. By appointment only.
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