Florida’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired Wednesday after Gov. Ron DeSantis did not extend the executive order that has been in place since April.
During a virtual news conference Thursday, housing advocates and elected officials discussed what’s next for people who are unable to pay their rent and utilities.
“People need to stay in their homes, people have lost their jobs, their unemployment benefits have run out or they haven’t received them,” said local organizer Bertisha Combs.
Combs works with the New Florida Majority, an independent political organization.
Responding to every consumer complaint
She says tenants who cannot afford to pay their rent may be covered under a federal moratorium.
“That’s the only way that Florida residents are covered at the moment, so it is very important that people understand the rules that go along with the CDC moratorium,” Combs said.
How the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium is implemented can vary depending on where you live. You also must meet certain criteria to qualify.
The CDC’s moratorium covers renters who make $99,000 a year or less, or $198,000 a year or less for couples. Renters must also show they have had financial hardship due to the coronavirus and tried to seek government assistance to make their rental payments.
The renter must submit a written statement saying they meet these standards.
But as some renters face a new reality, real estate investors may see the expiration of the state’s moratorium as a step in the right direction.
“They have some rights because all of their rights were taken away from them as far as their own property,” said real estate broker Florence Khan.
Khan, from the Reaction Realty Group, Inc., says the previous moratorium put landlords in a tricky spot financially.
“Either I have the elderly who are depending on their rental income for their living expenses or we have the younger investors where 70% of it is a mortgage payment,” Khan said.
Khan anticipates the eviction process taking longer than expected due to a possible backlog in the courts.
“The landlords need to get down there tomorrow, if they are going to do it themselves, do it themselves, get the application, get in line, get it going,” Khan said.
Some housing advocates fear families will be placed in a tough position with the eviction moratorium expiring at the same time utility companies are resuming shutoffs.
Several groups, including the Florida Housing Justice Alliance, sent a letter to DeSantis asking him to issue a statewide moratorium on utility disconnections through June 2021.