Coronavirus (COVID-19)

To update my earlier post of August 12 (Important Update Regarding Florida’s Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures), on the evening of August 31, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-211, which extended the relief provided in Executive Order 20-180 through 12:01 a.m. on October 1, 2020.

Other than extending the moratorium for 30

On April 2, 2020, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-94, which placed a moratorium on mortgage foreclosure actions, as well as residential eviction actions related to the non-payment of rent. The purpose of the moratorium was to provide targeted, temporary relief to Floridians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Executive Order 20-94 was enacted, three additional orders were signed by Governor DeSantis in order to extend the stay.

Most recently, on July 29, 2020, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-180, which extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium through September 1, 2020. However, the new order made substantial changes to limit the types of cases that are covered by the moratorium.

Changes to the stay on mortgage foreclosures

Previously, all mortgage foreclosure cases were suspended, regardless of the reason the foreclosure action was filed. In contrast, under the new order, the foreclosure stay only extends to “single-family mortgagors adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency”, and only for cases where the default is directly tied to non-payment.


Continue Reading Important Update Regarding Florida’s Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us have been forced to incorporate greater use of technology to conduct our business. For many associations, some tasks have been done for the first time using electronic technologies, such as video meetings under the exceptions permitted by the board’s emergency powers.

Conducting business by electronic means can increase efficiency and save paper, money, and storage space. Now that we are all getting used to conducting more business solely by solely electronic means, boards and managers may be wondering what they can do under the law to continue to use technology to operate their associations under “normal” circumstances. Here are some reminders of what is permitted under the Florida Statutes.

Meeting Notices

E-mail can be used to provide meeting notices only for owners who have consented in writing to accept notices by electronic means and who have provided an email address for that purpose. Meeting notices must also still be posted in a conspicuous place on the property if otherwise required. In addition to mailing, hand delivering or e-mailing notices, an association may adopt a procedure for conspicuously posting and repeatedly broadcasting the notice and agenda on a closed-circuit cable television system serving the association. If used, the broadcast notice and agenda must be broadcast in a manner and sufficient length of time so as to allow an average reader to observe, read and comprehend the entire content.

Websites


Continue Reading Incorporating Electronic Technology Into Association Operations

Guest post by Nick J. Oliveri, Summer Law Clerk

In late June, Governor DeSantis approved Florida’s version of the Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act (“UCRERA”) and the Act became effective July 1, 2020. This law begins its life in a time of great uncertainty for the Florida business community as the Sunshine State’s recently-relaxed business restrictions underwent a near full reversal as COVID-19 cases spiked around the state. This retightening of COVID-19 business restrictions and the uncertainty associated with it will likely mean Florida businesses may continue to struggle. This is where UCRERA comes in.

UCRERA codifies Florida common law around receivership and even expanded it in some cases. Those involved in Florida’s commercial real estate industry, whether on the lending or the borrowing side, would do well to take note of these changes as an increase in foreclosures is predicted as a result of COVID-19’s negative impact on Florida’s businesses.

What do Florida lenders need to look out for?

If you are a commercial lender, this law is definitely in your favor due to the expansive powers it gives receivers to help pay back the commercial lenders who appoint them. Lenders should focus on three things:

  • the mandatory receivership duties under UCRERA;
  • what actions receivers are allowed to do “in the ordinary course of business” and outside of it; and,
  • what actions they need court approval for.

The latter two things often go hand in hand as you will see below.

Impact on Borrowers

Although this sounds bad for borrowers, borrowers should be on the lookout for language like “with court approval” because that means a borrower will likely have the chance to contest whatever the receiver is trying to do.


Continue Reading Understanding Florida’s Commercial Property Receivership Act and its Impact on Lenders and Borrowers Amidst COVID-19

Permit Extensions for Emergency Declarations

Pursuant to Florida Statute 252.363, the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency tolls the period remaining to exercise rights under a permit or other authorization, essentially extending the life of the permit or authorization.

The expiration date of the permit or authorization is tolled for the duration of the emergency declaration plus an additional six months, and applies to the following:

  • development orders issued by a local government;
  • building permits;
  • permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district; and
  • the buildout date of a development of regional impact.

On March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency. Such declaration triggers the provisions of Florida Statute 252.363 and allows extensions of the permits and authorizations mentioned above.

Requests for extensions must be submitted to the appropriate permitting authority within 90 days after the emergency declaration has expired. Executive Order 20-52 is set to expire on May 8, 2020, unless further extended.

Suspension of Mortgage Foreclosures and Evictions


Continue Reading COVID-19: Real Estate Updates Halfway Through the Stay-at-Home Order

On March 27, 2020, citing a “great risk” to Florida residents relating to external travelers bringing COVD-19 virus to Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order No. 20-87. The order places severe, but temporary, restrictions on vacation rentals throughout Florida.

By its terms, the duration of the Governor’s order was 14 days, and the temporary restrictions would have expired on Friday, April 10th. However, both Lee County and Governor DeSantis took steps late afternoon on Friday the 10th to extend the prohibition through the end of April 2020 – with Lee County adopting Lee County Emergency Order 20-01, and Gov. DeSantis signing Executive Order 20-103. The substance of both the state and county versions of these orders is virtually identical, and both extend the rental restrictions from April 10th “until April 30, 2020” with the ability to extend by subsequent order(s).

Violations could result in jail time

Under the order, “all parties engaged in rental of vacation rental properties” (as defined in Chapter 509, Florida Statutes) must “suspend operations”. Additionally, new reservations, new bookings, and new guest check-ins are prohibited under the Governor’s order. Violation of the order is a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail.

Are there any exemptions? What if I rent my home to a healthcare worker?


Continue Reading COVID-19: Lee County and Florida Governor extend prohibition on vacation rentals until April 30, 2020

On April 2, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-94 (“E.O. 20-94”), which addressed mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief. In the preamble (i.e., the “whereas” section), the Governor recited that the Federal Housing Administration implemented an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for FHA-insured single-family mortgages for at least 60 days, and recited that the Federal Housing Finance Agency similarly directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for Enterprise-backed single-family mortgages for at least 60 days. Based on those Federal moratoriums, Gov. DeSantis issued E.O. 20-94.

The language of E.O. 20-94 states:

  • Section 1: I hereby suspend and toll any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action under Florida law for 45 days.
  • Section 2: I hereby suspend and toll any statue providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by resident tenants due to the COVID-19 emergency for 45 days.
  • Section 3: Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed as relieving an individual from their obligation to make mortgage payments or rent payments.


Continue Reading COVID-19: Mortgage Foreclosure and Eviction Relief

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting virtually every sector in some way, shape, or form. The real estate sector is no exception. Although the modern real estate world has slowly moved away from face-to-face deals, there are still aspects of real estate that require some type of face-to-face contact.

How do we keep moving forward while remaining safe and healthy?

With most banks, law firms, and offices closing up to the general public, you may be wondering how to fulfill the time constraints of your contract and how a deal can be closed. In our downtown Fort Myers office, we have set-up a drive-thru conference room for signings.

Discuss the best options and next steps with your real estate attorney. Depending on the contents of your contract and individual situation, a contract extension may be the best option. However, it may also be feasible to continue to closing using the proper resources.

Force majeure clauses


Continue Reading COVID-19 Impact on Real Estate Contracts and Closings