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Jax Area Legal Aid Creates Tool For Renters To Respond To Eviction Notices

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Andrew Harnik
/
AP Photo
Signs that read No Job No Rent hang from the windows of an apartment building in Northwest Washington on May 20, 2020.

Floridians facing eviction because of non-payment due to the coronavirus pandemic now have a new tool in their legal toolbox.

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, with the help of a $74,000 grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, has created an online form at FloridaEvictionHelp.org that helps tenants craft the required legal response to an impending eviction.

Even though landlords can’t remove tenants until September 1 in Florida, they are allowed to file eviction notices that give tenants just five days to show their failure to pay is directly related to COVID-19.

Under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest order issued July 29, landlords can file evictions, but “final action” on the lawsuit is suspended until Sept. 1 if, and only if, tenants can show a link to COVID-19.

“Knowing there are 749,000 Floridians at risk of eviction and that we don’t have lawyers for 749,000 Floridians, and knowing the Florida Courts DIY system structure does not contain a tenant answer at all, we began working back in March to make sure this tool would be available when the initial full moratorium ended,” said JALA President & CEO Jim Kowalski in a news release.

The $74,000 grant is being used to build and modify the tool as new statewide orders affecting eviction are issued, as well as for other COVID-19-related legal work JALA is doing.