COVID-19 Florida Regulatory Update Email: Governor Partially Reopens Florida
Date postedApril 30, 2020
Disclaimer: The information enclosed in this email and online at www.FAAHQ.org is being provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. FAA members are encouraged to contact their legal counsel regarding any landlord/tenant law matters. The industry is in uncharted territory at this time and legal interpretations surrounding this topic may vary.
Governor Announces Plan to Reopen Florida
On Wednesday, April 29, Governor Ron DeSantis presented data regarding the status of the COVID-19 infection across the state as well as a framework for phase one of Florida's reopening process. Governor DeSantis also issued two new executive orders. Executive Order 20-111 extended two previous executive orders regarding vacation rentals and the statewide stay-at-home order. Executive Order 20-112 outlines phase one of Florida's reopening. A summary of these policy changes is provided below.
It is important to note however, that the governor’s executive orders do not contain a preemption on local rules that restrict or close businesses and buildings. Therefore, local governments may establish additional rules or regulations.
Executive Order 20-111 Summary:
- Effective May 1-4, 2020.
- Extends Executive Order 20-87, which ordered all parties engaged in rental of vacation rental properties to suspend vacation rental operations. Vacation rentals are prohibited from making new reservations or bookings and shall not accept new guests for check-in.
- Extends Executive Order 20-91 which limited statewide “Essential Services and Activities during the Covid-19 Emergency" and required all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.
Phase One Summary (Executive Order 20-112):
- Becomes effective May 4, 2020 and will remain in place until the governor issues a subsequent executive order. Click here to access an FAQ regarding this executive order.
- This order is in effect statewide, however in coordination with Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county mayors, these three counties will follow stricter protocol without the reopen provisions of Executive Order 20-112.
- Gyms and fitness centers closed by Executive Order 20-71 shall remain closed.
- Vacation rentals prohibition remains in effect
- Senior citizens and individuals with significant underlying medical conditions are strongly encouraged to stay at home.
- Individuals should avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not allow for physical distancing.
- FAA recommends that members consider this directive when evaluating the opening of amenities such as the apartment community pool. Members are also advised to check whether local restrictions have been put in place related to recreational spaces to ensure compliance with any local-specific regulations.
- Individuals should avoid nonessential travel.
- Face masks are recommended for face-to-face interactions and when individuals cannot practice physical distancing.
- When in public, individuals should maximize distance between one another.
- Restaurants and retail stores can operate at 25 percent capacity.
- Elective surgeries will now be permitted.
- Visits to senior living facilities prohibited.
- Schools will remain in session via distance learning.
- Museums and libraries may open at no more than 25% of occupancy.
- No changes were made to business operations previously deemed essential.
- A violation of this order is a second-degree misdemeanor under s. 252.50 F.S. and punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500, or both.
The governor did not elaborate on the specifics of phase 2 or phase 3 of his reopening plan. However, the governor stressed that he plans to use CDC guidelines as a baseline and will carefully evaluate what makes sense for the state based on state and local COVID-19 data. The governor also indicated he hopes the state will move through different phases in weeks rather than months so this will be a quickly developing issue in the days ahead. You can rest assured that FAA will continue to monitor these developments and communicate timely updates to members on these important issues.
FAA is also aware that a number of local governments are taking action and establishing policy guidelines at the local level. Since local restrictions were not preempted by the governor, this activity is likely to continue. FAA is tracking these developments and working to compile a Google spreadsheet that will be updated on an ongoing basis to help members keep track of local regulations. We will be sharing this resource with FAA members as soon as it is available.
FAA Invited to Participate in Eviction Mitigation Task Force
FAA was recently contacted by the Florida Department of Professional Business and Regulation (DBPR) and asked to participate in a task force that will focus on mitigating the financial impacts of COVID-19 that could lead to eviction. FAA is working hard to ensure the policy guidelines developed by this work group do not unintentionally harm the apartment industry.
Based on initial discussions, we believe it is possible that the governor's 45-day eviction moratorium for cases of nonpayment of rent could be temporarily extended. FAA will continue to advocate for direct rental assistance, which is the only solution that will actually protect residents experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19. As soon as updates related to this issue are available, FAA will communicate those details to members.
In an effort to ensure Florida Apartment Association members are well informed, new resources are continually being added to FAA's COVID-19 page. Below, please find links to recently added resources that may be of assistance to you and your teams.
- State and Federal Eviction Moratorium Timeline Summary
- FAA created this visual aid to help members understand the timelines included in the governor's executive order suspending evictions for nonpayment of rent and the eviction moratorium in the federal CARES Act.
- Please note, you will have to log in as an FAA member to view the State and Federal Eviction Moratorium Timeline linked above.
- New Resident Resources
- Many local governments across Florida are starting to establish rent relief funds for residents financially impacted by COVID-19. FAA has compiled a list of the resident resource funds we are aware of at this time. Click here to see a list of programs, which will be updated on an ongoing basis as new programs are established.
- New CDC Guidelines for Cleaning Facilities
- New CDC Guidelines for Businesses
- NOTE: The CDC established these new guidelines for states to reference as they work to reopen their economies.
- Emergency Rule Regarding Rent Increases
- The Florida Housing Finance Corporation issued an emergency rule on April 29. This emergency rule incentivizes owners and operators of properties financed by the corporation to suspend any rent increases during this public health crisis. This rule expires after 90 days or upon the expiration of the Governor's Executive Order 20-52, which declared a public health emergency, whichever comes sooner.