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Articles Posted in Residential Leasing

The recent order to halt residential evictions through Dec. 31, 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control is aimed at preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and protecting tenants impacted by the virus.  Under the order, renters of single family, multifamily and mobile home residences who earn less than $99,000 a year ($198,000 for joint filers) may submit a declaration to their landlord asserting their eligibly to be protected from eviction.

For eligibility, renters must provide a declaration form to their landlord asserting their qualifications and inability to pay, and they will not be relieved of their obligations to pay rent nor any fees or interest due to nonpayment.  In addition, residents can still be evicted for other reasons, like engaging in criminal activity, posing a health or safety risk, or damaging rental property.

cdc-300x227The order also specifically excludes foreclosures of home mortgages from the moratorium, but it is unclear whether a foreclosed homeowner could seek protection from being removed from the property post-foreclosure sale.

Our firm’s real estate attorneys are helping our clients navigate through these challenging times and contend with the issues surrounding the current state of evictions, foreclosures and property transactions.  We encourage those with questions to contact us, and we also recommend submitting your email address in the subscription box on the right to automatically receive all our future blog articles.

ORivera2014The firm’s Oscar R. Rivera was quoted in today’s South Florida Sun Sentinel in the newspaper’s article on the status of the residential evictions moratorium headlined “Gov. Ron DeSantis Extends Florida’s Evictions Ban for One More Month to July 1.”  The article reads:

. . . The moratorium pertains only to residential properties and not to commercial real estate such as office buildings, warehouses, free-standing retail shops and shopping malls.

Oscar Rivera, an attorney at the South Florida law firm of Siegfried Rivera, said Monday that clients who operate apartment buildings have not seen an outpouring of delinquencies since the coronavirus pandemic upended the economy. He surmised that is probably a result of loans and grant money flowing from the public sector to help keep businesses afloat.

sun_sentinel_logo-300x64“On the residential side, a lot of our clients who are owners of residential properties have been collecting a large percentage of rents,” he said.  Commercial landlords, Rivera added, have been working out delays in rent payments for those tenants who need them.

“We represent all sorts of landlords and across the board; we have not seen a significant uptick in any kinds of defaults,” he said.  “People are trying to look through this situation in the most favorable way possible.” . . .

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A recent case serves to remind landlords that a residential lease represents a business relationship, and in business parties must be reasonable and operate in good faith. In Siewert v. Casey, the tenant’s residential lease contained a provision that prohibited assignment or sublease without the landlord’s consent. The tenant was planning to move out of the area, and after much communication with the landlord, the tenant was unable to obtain the landlord’s consent to a sublease. The tenant finally terminated the lease prior to the end of the term, and the landlord sued for damages.

The trial court found that the landlord had issued a blanket denial of all subleases. Because of this refusal, the trial court also found that the tenant was excused from performance. The landlord appealed the decision, and the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s decision. It noted that because the lease did not contain any standards pursuant to which the landlord could grant or withhold consent, the landlord had to be reasonable in response to a request for consent.

Residential lease agreement.jpgIn accordance with Florida law, a landlord under a residential lease must operate in good faith when performing under the lease or enforcing the tenant’s obligations. Since the absolute refusal to consent to any sublease is unreasonable and represents a failure to operate in good faith, any request for consent to a sublease or assignment should be reviewed and carefully considered. If consent is denied, the landlord should provide the tenant with a reasonable explanation for denying consent. If a reasonable basis does not exist, the denial of consent puts the landlord at risk should the tenant pursue litigation.

Our South Florida real estate attorneys write about important legal and business issues for residential and commercial landlords and tenants in this blog on a regular basis, and we encourage those who are interested in this information to submit their email address in the subscription box at the top right of the blog in order to automatically receive all of our future articles.

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