Evictions, foreclosures heat up as legal system races to catch up

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The Central Florida eviction and foreclosure market is beginning to heat up as landlords and creditors look to finally shed their dead weight two years into the pandemic, a real estate attorney said.

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Mark Lippman, of Lippman Law Offices in Orlando, said many landlords didn’t immediately seek to oust their tenants once an eviction moratorium was lifted because they wanted their tenants to apply for rental assistance.

“Then, we ran into Thanksgiving, and we don’t do evictions during the holidays,” he explained.

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Now, that excuse has passed. Millions of dollars have been distributed throughout the area, though demand remains high. Volusia County reopened its portal this week, only to shut it back down a half hour later after the maximum 500 families applied.

Lippman estimated that his eviction business had declined 40% since the beginning of the pandemic, meaning there was a backlog still to overcome.

Pressure is also building on the landlords themselves, especially the smaller ones.

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“I think in the next few months, we’re going to start seeing a lot more foreclosure complaints,” Lippman predicted, saying he had heard banks are gearing up those divisions.

He said some of his clients were mom-and-pop operations who couldn’t make their mortgage payments after their tenants stopped paying. He said their choices will be to either refinance their properties or fight the eviction, though he noted banks usually win those fights.

For both tenants and property owners, the attorney’s advice was to get a head start.

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“Try to look at every program that still may remain with money in it and apply for it if they can, and do so now,” he said. “Even if you’re in debt you can get ahead of the game by being proactive instead of being reactive.”

Click here for the Orange County Emergency Rental Assistance program.

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