DeSantis Extends Eviction, Foreclosure Moratorium Through Oct. 1
Gov. Ron DeSantis has once again extended his moratorium on evictions and foreclosures connected to COVID-19 hardships for one month.
“Final action on the [eviction] lawsuits is suspended until October 1, if and only if the tenant can show a link to COVID-19 as a reason for not being able to pay the rent,” said Mary DeVries, division chief of the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Housing Unit, on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Tuesday.
But even with the extension, property owners can begin the foreclosure process and landlords can begin the eviction process. The governor's order prevents only the final action of removing people from their homes.
The global research firm Stout says 749,000 Florida households are at risk of eviction over the next four months.
“From the months of April through July, there were only about 50 eviction lawsuits being filed a month. In the month of August, in Duval County, there were 800 evictions filed alone,” Devries said.
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Her organization is hearing from tenants who have been able to return to work but they are having a hard time coming up with enough money to catch up on their rent. She’s seen tenants with debts up to $7,000.
Since DeSantis’s first eviction moratorium in April, tenants have not been absolved from paying rent. Tenants unable to pay rent must make arrangements with their landlord to submit missed payments.
DeVries said that some of the tenants she works with have received small amounts of assistance from various agencies.
“The bulk of the debt is still money that they're going to have to pay back. Many folks could not come up with that money if they've been out of work for several weeks or months,” DeVries said.
For tenants who need legal help, Devries recommends starting with an online form created by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid at FloridaEvictionHelp.org. The form helps tenants craft the required legal response to an impending eviction.
Devries said the federal CARES Act helped families avoid becoming homeless, but that help has run out.
“I think there needs to be more rental assistance that’s made available," she said.
She also acknowledged many landlords might be struggling to pay their bills.
“Our goal is can we find a way where the tenant is able to receive assistance but the landlord is made whole and the tenant gets back on track?" she said.
Landlords with federally backed mortgages who have not received rent payments can request a forbearance period through their mortgage provider. Under the CARES Act, landlords can defer their mortgage payments for up to 180 days, at which point they can apply for an extension. No penalties or fees apply.
To hear the entire interview with DeVries, listen to Tuesday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. The show also encores at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.
Katherine Hobbs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.
Bill Bortzfield can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.