Legal expert weighs in on late rent and mortgage payments

Posted at 7:34 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 08:15:56-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- As the first of the month quickly approaches, a lot of people are concerned about how they are going to make their rent or mortgage payments.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the closure of hundreds of businesses, which means people are no longer bringing in a paycheck.


Gil Sanchez, an attorney in the Tampa Bay Area, said most companies would understand. If they don't, some steps need to take place before a person has to move out of their home.

"In Florida, in order for you to be legally evicted -- i.e. where the police are going to come to your door and tell you you have to gather your things and you have to leave like now, immediately -- in order to get to that point, a lot of things need to happen before hand," Sanchez said.

Sanchez said the first thing that needs to happen is an official notice from the landlord.


"If, for example, you get the notice and it's proper, and you do not leave on the day that you have to leave, at that point in time, you cannot be legally evicted still," Sanchez said. "At that point, the landlord has to file the eviction. So, you actually have to file a lawsuit in court. They need to properly serve you at that point, and then at that point, you will have the opportunity to answer that."

Sanchez said this process could take weeks and even span a couple of months.

For law enforcement to enforce the eviction, a writ of possession has to be signed by a judge.


"At this point, the judicial branch, they are covering individuals who are unable to pay the rent because judges are simply not executing on writ of possession. And a writ of possession is the document that needs to be ordered by the judge and given to the sheriff in order for the sheriff to then go and have you legally removed," Sanchez said. "In all, I would say that you probably have about, let's say, you know from the moment that you don't pay your rent and you're kind of on the clock there's probably going to be a good 30 to 60 day before you can actually be taken out."

Sanchez said it's essential to contact your landlord or mortgage company to let them know you have been financially affected by the pandemic.