Evicting tenants is harder during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Landlords have been calling in at a pretty steady rate asking what can be done about tenants who aren’t paying their rent during the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus.

On April 2, 2020, Florida’s governor issued an order (20-94) to: “[S]uspend 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.”

That was great news for tenants, but very bad news for landlords.  Tenants should beware that the governor didn’t state that rent was waived.  Landlords are just stopped from filing the eviction lawsuit until the order expires.

The 45 days expire on May 17 assuming it isn’t extended by another order.  In Miami-Dade, we can expect the delay to cause a greater backlog to the already slow process.  However, tenants know that they still owe the rent due for every day they live or otherwise possess the rented property or as set forth in the lease.

It’s a good idea to work with the tenants to accept partial payments and spread any deficiencies out over the balance of the lease or next lease term.  It’s also a good idea to accept the deposit in lieu of further payments if the tenants agree to move-out.  (Remember to always give a receipt with the balance reflected when partial payments are made).  Tenants aren’t going to want to have an eviction on their records when they go to rent elsewhere, and landlords are likely going to have a tough time finding tenants with steady jobs for the rest of the year.

Tenants should be advised to move out before they incur more debt that they can’t afford and to move in with family or friends where possible.  Landlords should also consider allowing additional income earners to move-in and share the bill as co-tenants (and make them sign leases).

I generally advise that as soon as a tenant is late, send a three-day notice.  I still recommend sending the 3-day notice that rent is late, but the three days probably won’t start until May 17 or whenever the executive order expires.  Once the period set forth in the executive order expires and assuming it isn’t extended, the court is likely to accept new eviction cases absent some other order that specifies our courts remain closed.

We have a great track record on handling evictions and charge an initial fee of $300 (flat-fee plus costs) for the 3-day notice of late rent for residential evictions handled by myself, Matthew Ladd, a Florida Bar Licensed Attorney.  We need to review the lease if you have one, the payment history, confirm the amount due, and then we can send the notice. If the tenant doesn’t pay you after the notice is served, the amount paid will be applied to the future attorney services related to filing the eviction lawsuit (generally another $300 plus costs).  Our client meetings are being handled remotely via Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, or just over the phone.  Documents can be emailed to MattLadd@MLLawMiami.com.

Call Matthew E. Ladd today, 305-665-3978 to get started or to set up an appointment.

This blog is provided for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice or the formation of the attorney/ client relationship.