If you are a tenant who is residing in a foreclosed property or a purchaser of a foreclosed property, then you should be aware of the newly created Section 83.561, Florida Statutes. Section 83.561 governs the actions of a purchaser taking title to a tenant-occupied residential property following a foreclosure sale and provides tenants the right to remain on the subject property for 30 days following the date the notice of termination is properly delivered by the purchaser.

Specifically, the new Section 83.561, Florida Statutes, provides as follows:

83.561 Termination of rental agreement upon foreclosure.

(1) If a tenant is occupying residential premises that are the subject of a foreclosure sale, upon issuance of a certificate of title following the sale, the purchaser named in the certificate of title takes title to the residential premises subject to the rights of the tenant under this section.

(a) The tenant may remain in possession of the premises for 30 days following the date of the purchaser’s delivery of a written 30-day notice of termination.

(b) The tenant is entitled to the protections of s. 83.67.

(c) 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)….

(d) The 30-day notice of termination shall be delivered in the same manner as provided in s. 83.56(4).

(2) 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. The writ of possession shall be governed by s. 83.62.

(3) This section does not apply if:

(a) The tenant is the mortgagor in the subject foreclosure or is the child, spouse, or parent of the mortgagor in the subject foreclosure.

(b) The tenant’s rental agreement is not the result of an arm’s length transaction.

(c) The tenant’s rental agreement allows the tenant to pay rent that is substantially less than the fair market rent for the premises, unless the rent is reduced or subsidized due to a federal, state, or local subsidy.

(4) A purchaser at a foreclosure sale of a residential premises occupied by a tenant does not assume the obligations of a landlord, except as provided in paragraph (1)(b), unless or until the purchaser assumes an existing rental agreement with the tenant that has not ended or enters into a new rental agreement with the tenant.

See Section 83.561, Florida Statutes.

The purchasers of foreclosed homes who do not wish to assume an existing rental agreement or enter into a new rental agreement with the tenant must be careful to ensure that their Section 83.561 30-day Notice of Termination fully conforms to all the statutory requirements as to form and delivery or risk an unnecessary delay in regaining possession of the property.

The purchaser must also be familiar with Section 83.67 of the Florida Statutes. This section lists with great specificity the actions that a landlord is prohibited from undertaking and the severe penalties that apply in the event a landlord actually violates this section by engaging in any of the prohibited practices.

Although pursuant to Section 83.561, Florida Statutes, the purchaser does not assume the obligations of a landlord unless the purchaser assumes an existing lease agreement or enters into a new rental agreement, when it comes to prohibited practices of Section 83.67, the new section does place the purchaser on a par with a landlord. In other words, the new section specifically requires the purchaser to assume the obligations of a landlord when it comes to Section 83.67 and specifically prohibits the purchaser from engaging in self-help evictions and other egregious conduct such as terminating or interrupting any of the utilities that are being provided to the tenant, locking out a tenant, etc.

At the same time, the tenant must also be aware of this new section to ensure that the purchaser does in fact comply with this new statutory language and, in cases of non-compliance, be in a position to demand such compliance.

Ultimately, it would be prudent for both the purchasers and the tenants to take time to familiarize themselves with the provisions of this new section as it does govern both of their actions after the foreclosure sale.