Governor DeSantis previously issued Executive Order 20-94 on April 2, 2020, suspending and tolling any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure or residential eviction due to non-payment of rent that, after several extensions, was set to expire on August 1, 2020. On July 29, 2020, the Executive Order was further extended until September 1, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., but amended to be limited to foreclosures of single-family residences and residential evictions, which arise from non-payment due to loss of employment, income, or other monetary loss caused by COVID-19.
However, the amended Executive Order goes further to clarify that it does not stop foreclosure or eviction proceedings. Rather, the suspension of statutes providing for residential foreclosures and residential evictions will only apply at the conclusion of the proceeding. Moreover, the amended Executive Order limits relief to situations in which the defendant can demonstrate that the proceeding arose from non-payment of rent or mortgage caused by a loss of employment or income during the COVID-19 pandemic. This amendment is particularly helpful as clerks across the state have interpreted the original Executive Order differently. For example, some counties allowed actions to proceed and only suspended sales, whereas other counties refused to issue summonses or record the Notice of Lis Pendens. This Executive Order, as amended, removes that discretion.
The only remaining ambiguity with the amended Executive Order is the reference to “single family mortgagor.” The potential issue is for commercial loans secured by single-family residences. Ultimately, this should be a distinction without a difference, as the action itself can still proceed to judgment, and the sale would only be stayed upon a showing that the default was a result of loss of income due to COVID-19.
Notwithstanding the temporary relief provided for in the Executive Order, the Executive Order remains clear—it does not relieve borrowers and tenants from their obligation to make mortgage or rent payments.
Bilzin Sumberg will continue to update on this topic.