Eviction Writs Halted

Eviction Writs of Possession Stopped by Fla. Courts until April 17.

Attached is an article about eviction writs which appeared in Florida Realtors that should be of concern to landlords in Florida:

A landlord may win an eviction case, but an order that suspends many court operations until April 17 means the necessary confirmation documents won’t be issued.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Because the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an administrative order extending the suspension of jury trials and other in-person court proceedings through April 17. That order includes the issuance of a writ of possession that property owners need to have in hand before a sheriff will evict a tenant.

If a county or city bans evictions, it applies to the actions by the sheriff’s office only. However, even in areas where evictions have not been banned, a local sheriff needs a writ of possession from a court for authorization to evict. This current delay temporarily ends the issuance of any writ of possession, effectively ending new evictions if a writ has not already been issued.

“This order suspends the issuing of writs of possession by the clerks of courts,” says Florida Realtors Associate General Counsel Meredith Caruso. “A judgment may be issued in the landlord’s favor; however, the landlord won’t be able to get the writ needed.”

Canady’s order Tuesday extends deadlines in previous administrative orders aimed at complying with health officials’ recommendations to curb COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

“We are all facing an unprecedented challenge,” Canady said in a video message released Tuesday. “The pandemic is now affecting everyone. We are living our lives in a way that none of us would have contemplated a few short weeks ago. … (The pandemic) “presents an extraordinary challenge for the legal system.” he added.

The chief justice’s order extends an earlier suspension of a variety of court procedures, including speedy trial rules. The order directs state courts to “cancel or postpone court proceedings other than essential and critical proceedings,” unless chief circuit judges determine that they can be conducted remotely. The order also includes other measures designed to minimize face-to-face contact in court proceedings, including suspending some notarization requirements.

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