Here’s What Renters Need to Know About the Governor’s Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium Extension
Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through October 1 yesterday hours before the midnight deadline.
The moratorium only applies to tenants who can prove a loss of income due to COVID-19-related hardship and it doesn’t keep landlords from filing paperwork.
Attorney Jeffrey Hussey of Community Legal Services of Mid Florida says if a renter receives an eviction complaint, they should respond immediately.
“If you get served with that paperwork you have five days to file something with the court. And it could be as simple as a letter to the judge saying, ‘Judge, my job. I lost my job. I was a bartender and I lost my job due to COVID-19.”
Hussey says if a renter does nothing, the court can issue default judgments against them.
He said he’s also seen renters try to perform “self-help evictions” which are illegal.
“That means for instance you’re gone and they change the locks on you, or they turn your power off or they shut the water off. That is strictly prohibited under Florida law. The only way a landlord can get you out of your residence if you have a lease is through the court system.”
Hussey says tenants can sue their landlords for damages of up to three months of rent if they attempt this practice.
Heart of Florida United Way President Jeff Hayward says although the eviction diversion program in Orange County and additional rent assistance in Orlando should help many families remain housed, he’s worried about what will happen in the long-run.
“Unless you’re making good money, if you’re working in a low-income position or you’re a member of the ALICE family, it’s pretty hard to get by. And we as a community I think need to be doing a lot more around the affordable housing issue.”
Hayward said the area is 91,000 housing units short for low-income families.
“We’ve got to keep up with that demand, otherwise, it’s a supply and demand issue. The cost of housing will continue to rise.”
The moratorium will expire at midnight on October 1.
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