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Florida Supreme Court Enters into Coronavirus Order That Affects Commercial Landlords, Evictions, And Foreclosures

Commercial eviction proceedings have been complicated by the coronavirus, as more and more cities and states pass emergency laws barring evictions of tenants, as well as foreclosures, in some instances, all while landlords are still expected to finance mortgages and satisfy their lenders. This includes Florida, where, in late March, the state Supreme Court issued an administrative order that will affect evictions and foreclosures.

As a result, it is important for landlords to review their leases with commercial landlord attorneys in order to ensure that they understand their rights and are prepared in terms of how any new laws and court decisions have altered those rights. Landlord attorneys can also assist landlords in coming up with creative solutions by agreement, such as partial base rent abatement and/or a repayment schedule, for example, and in researching other options, such as finding out if certain commercial tenants have business interruption insurance policies that can provide coverage during this time. At the same time, landlords will of course also have to consider obligations to their lenders and the effects any lease modifications they enter into will have on their loan covenants, and commercial landlord attorneys can review loan documents so that they are aware of the requirements and what is they need to do in order to ensure that they are in compliance.

“The Requirement… For Clerks To Issue Writs Of Possession… Shall Be Suspended Through April 17”

Unfortunately, when it comes to the recent “COVID-19 Emergency Measures in the Florida State Courts,” it is still very unclear – even to the clerks of the court – how exactly the change to the writ of possession applies. The order either suspends, or provides clerks with the option to suspend, issuing writs of possession through April 17. Writs of possession are used by law-enforcement to evict a tenant and transfer ownership back to a landlord, as well as remove residents from a foreclosed property and transfer the property to its new owner.

Thus far, most of the clerks’ offices in Sarasota and elsewhere have interpreted the order as requiring them to temporarily stop issuing writs of possession, which essentially means putting evictions on hold. However, several others have also indicated that the order contradicts state law, which dictates that, if a judge sides with a landlord or a buyer in a foreclosure, clerks have to issue writs of possession, and only the legislature has the right to change this. Meanwhile, the federal government has already halted evictions and foreclosures on any properties owned by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

If You Have Questions, Contact Our Florida Commercial Landlord & Tenant Attorneys

There is no question that there is a significant amount of confusion amongst Florida landlords and tenants right now when it comes to both eviction and foreclosure. If you have any questions about these issues in Florida, contact our Tampa commercial landlord and tenant attorneys at HD Law Partners today to ensure that you are on the right path.



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