New tenant protections in Florida
On June 2nd, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed into law HB 779 (codified as s. 83.561 F.S.) which provides protections for tenant’s occupying recently foreclosed homes. In essence, the new law will provide tenant’s 30 days written notice to vacate the property before being evicted. This represents a significant increase from the current requirement of 24 hours’ notice. Demand for HB 779 was driven by the expiration of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 or PTFA (a Federal law that gave tenant’s up to 90 days’ notice before an eviction proceeding could commence) which sunset on December 31, 2014.
Like its Federal counterpart, HB 779’s original draft included a 90-day notice requirement but was reduced to 30 days by the Republican controlled legislature. Also akin to the PTFA, HB 779 demands the tenant be bona fide which conditions them on having a valid lease, pay rent equivalent to the fair market value and be a non-relative of the foreclosed borrower. The new law shifts the burden to the purchaser to investigate the occupancy status of the residence and mail a 30-day notice closely related in form to language included in the statute. However, HB 779 does not require the new purchaser to assume a bona fide tenant’s lease and further exempts them from compliance with laws governing a landlord’s obligations to maintain certain standards of habitability.