Several state lawmakers are raising the alarm that courts are continuing to sign off on eviction notices despite a state order blocking them.
“So…despite @GovRonDeSantis’ crystal clear order suspending the residential tenant eviction statute, apparently clerks and landlords are treating it as business as usual,” Rep. Mike Grieco wrote on Twitter.
His post included a photo of an eviction summons approved in Miami-Dade civil court.
Early on in the COVID-19 outbreak, the Supreme Court paused evictions through April 17 amid concerns that social distancing restrictions would halt people’s income and hinder their ability to pay rent.
Gov. Ron DeSantis then followed up with an Executive Order extending the suspension. That EO was set to expire Sunday.
Earlier Thursday, the Governor again agreed to an extension, signing a second Executive Order that halts evictions through June 2.
The order suspends “any statute providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by residential tenants due to the COVID-19.”
That should remove any authority for enforcing a landlord’s to evict a tenant due to a failure to pay rent. Yet Grieco followed up with another post showing the aforementioned Miami-Dade summons being served to one of his constituents.
“Imagine you get this knock on your door [and] it’s a process server with a court-issued eviction summons and 5-day notice,” Grieco said.
“Pretty sure this isn’t what @GovRonDeSantis wanted when he imposed an eviction moratorium!”
Rep. Jackie Toledo said landlords in Hillsborough County are also attempting to move forward with evictions.
“200 evictions have been filed in the Tampa Bay region despite Governor DeSantis’ April 2nd order suspending evictions. This adds unnecessary pressure to already stressed families.”
Mike Moore, the public information officer for the 13th Judicial Circuit covering Hillsborough, said that court is not currently advancing any such claims.
“No cases have been moved forward at all in Hillsborough County,” Moore said. He said those claims may be filed, but that Hillsborough County is not acting on those filings.
“You can’t stop someone from filing a lawsuit, but it just means that there’s no court process that’s going to go on from there.”
Florida Politics has reached out to the 11th Circuit in Miami-Dade for additional explanation. This story will be updated if a response is received.
Sen. Gary Farmer also voiced concern about the issue.
“Just learned several Clerks of Court are still accepting foreclosure [and] eviction filings [and] issuing summonses which are being served, all in violation of EO suspending the cause of action,” Farmer wrote.
He cautioned clerks of court to cease the practice and said attorneys who file eviction claims while the EO is in effect should be reported to the Bar.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has taken a severe toll on the economy in Florida and around the nation. More than 2 million Floridians have filed for unemployment since the crisis began. Nationwide, that tally is up to 36 million.
The state has begun to slowly reopen its economy while continuing to apply social distancing restrictions.
Phase One began May 4. Thursday, the Governor announced Broward and Miami-Dade counties — which had previously been left out of the plan due to concerns about the prevalence of the virus in those areas — would begin Phase One on Monday, May 18.
DeSantis also teased a Friday announcement regarding Phase Two of the plan, which would allow additional businesses to open.