How to Deal with A Non Paying Tenant During COVID-19?

As we try and protect ourselves each day from the deadly virus and adhere to the CDC guidelines in exercising social distancing, safer at home living, donning facial masks, and sanitizing hands many landlords are faced with the anxiety and reality of non paying tenants during this trying time in our nation.

In order to prepare a plan for moving forward we must first understand the safeguards in place to protect tenants.

March 18, 2020 President Trump issues a 60 day eviction and foreclosure halt for single family homeowners with loans for residential residences backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) into law. The 120 day Federal Moratorium prohibits landlords from filing evictions for non payment of rent and charging late fees or other penalties related to non payment. These are properties covered under the “covered housing program”, “rural housing program”, “has a federally backed mortgage”, or has a “federally backed multifamily mortgage loan.”

April 2, 2020 Governor Ron DeSantis enters Executive Order No 20-94 which suspends all residential foreclosure and evictions for non payment of rent for 45 days. The order does not relieve the tenants obligation to pay rent.

A few questions to consider in developing a plan for how to deal with a non paying tenant during COVID-19:

  1. Has the tenant been unemployed as a result of COVID-19?
  2. Can the tenant return to work once business restores?
  3. What is the tenant history of payment?
  4. How is the communication between the landlord and tenant?

In lieu of eviction the landlord may consider some of the following options:

  • Abatement of rent for a certain period of time
  • Reduction of rent for the remainder of the lease
  • Payment plan for back rent once suspension is lifted
  • If tenant cannot resume rental payments a negotiated move out date

Each situation is different so it may be that the landlord will not have any other option than eviction once the suspension is lifted, however, good communication with the tenant and planning are a good start. Should you have any questions you may call my office (727) 330-7800

“Failure to plan is planning to fail” Ben Franklin

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