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.

Less than 24 hours from its enactment, people are already asking questions. Does E.O. 20-94 only prohibit the initiation of a new foreclosure or eviction lawsuit? Does it suspend existing foreclosure or eviction lawsuits, when default was based on non-payment that occurred months before COVID-19 was an issue?

Based on the language of the preamble, it seems likely that Governor’s intent was to suspend all residential mortgage foreclosure and eviction cases, whether new or pending. E.O. 20-94 does not, however, constitute a “rent holiday” – tenants should continue to pay rent and landlords should continue to send default notices.

Additional rights and remedies may be provided by the language of the mortgage or lease, so even though a new lawsuit cannot be initiated, parties should carefully review their mortgage or lease, and consult with an attorney to review either their enforcement alternatives or legal defenses to enforcement. I may be reached at scott.beatty@henlaw.com or by phone 239-344-1169.