Although the federal Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act expired December 31, 2014, Florida has adopted its own permanent, albeit, limited version. Effective June 2, 2015, newly enacted Florida Statute 83.561 offers limited protections to tenants in Florida foreclosed homes.
Similar to the expired federal act, there are very strict requirements to receive these protections, including: the tenant must occupy the residential premises under a valid arm’s length transaction rental agreement; the rental agreement cannot be significantly below market value; and the tenant may not be the mortgagor in the subject foreclosure or the child, spouse, or parent of the mortgagor in the subject foreclosure.
However, unlike the expired federal act, a new purchaser, including a community association, can terminate the tenancy even if they do not intend to occupy the property by serving a 30 day notice of termination. The 30-day notice of termination must be in substantially the following form:
NOTICE TO TENANT OF TERMINATION
You are hereby notified that your rental agreement is terminated on the date of delivery of this notice, that your occupancy is terminated 30 days following the date of the delivery of this notice, and that I demand possession of the premises on …(date)…. If you do not vacate the premises by that date, I will ask the court for an order allowing me to remove you and your belongings from the premises. You are obligated to pay rent during the 30-day period for any amount that might accrue during that period. Your rent must be delivered to … (landlord’s name and address)….
If the tenant fails to voluntarily vacate after termination, the purchaser at the foreclosure sale may apply to the court for a writ of possession based upon a sworn affidavit that the 30-day notice of termination was delivered to the tenant and the tenant has failed to vacate the premises at the conclusion of the 30-day period. If the court awards a writ of possession, the writ must be served on the tenant.
Clearly, this law is not intended to allow tenants in foreclosed homes to complete the lease term, but instead give them a 30 day window to make alternate living arrangements. Both tenants of foreclosed properties and purchasers at foreclosure sales will need to review the statute carefully to understand their rights and obligations therein.
If you are unsure whether this statute applies to you, please feel free to contact us.