JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Renters across the state were holding their breath Monday night, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the eviction moratorium only hours before it was set to expire.
For Jacksonville mom Daphne Glenn, her priority right now is keeping a roof over her kids’ heads.
"At the end of the day, I don’t want to end up outside,” Glenn said.
She was laid off in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Glenn filed for unemployment and was approved.
However, she has only received three partial payments over the last three months.
“I’m in the hole, and it’s only getting deeper, and I’m paying what’s important and that’s my rent," Glenn said. "Everything else, I’m getting by the skin of my teeth.”
Glenn is looking for a job, but come July 1, she said she has nothing left to scrape together to make rent.
“It’s a very scary time for our clients,” said Mary Devries with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
Devries said if you haven’t been able to pay rent or don’t think you’ll have the money come July, you need to talk to your landlord immediately.
“The governor’s moratorium doesn’t wave the rent. It doesn’t say that you don’t owe the money, so the tenant needs to be working on a plan to get current before the moratorium expires,” Devries said.
She recommended asking a landlord for a payment plan. On Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s website, there is a free template for renters to fill out and give directly to their landlord asking for leeway.
When negotiating a payment plan, make sure the agreement includes:
- A ledger of all amounts currently owed;
- The date(s) and amount(s) of all the payments;
- Whether the payment plan includes the rent that will become due during the payment plan;
- What will happen if you miss a payment; and
- A promise from your landlord that by agreeing to the payment plan, the landlord will not take legal action against you.
However, the landlord has no legal obligation to offer a plan.
“There are no requirements for payment plans or extensions further than what the governor or CARES Act designates,” said Devries.
If DeSantis does not extend the moratorium again on June 30, landlords will be able to file for an eviction.
If a tenant’s rent is past due, it is legal for the landlord to evict the tenant as long as the landlord gives the tenant a proper written notice and then obtains an eviction judgement from the court.
- The written notice from the landlord must state that the tenant has three (3) days to pay the rent or move out.
- If the tenant has not paid the rent or moved out after three (3) days, the landlord may file an eviction case in the County Court to have the tenant removed.
- If an eviction case is filed, the tenant will be served with an Eviction Summons and Complaint.
- If the tenant does nothing to contest the eviction case in court, the process usually takes at least 10 to 14 days after the tenant is served with the eviction summons and complaint.
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid recommends these resource to get help:
A free service provided by United Way that connects area residents to critical health and social service resources when they need help is 211. From help with a household bill, food assistance, or counseling for suicide prevention, United Way’s 211 helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round.
- Feeding Northeast Florida is providing agencies with “Family Meal Kits” that contain shelf-stable food items, produce, and meat when available.
- FoodFinder is a national website that shows low-income families when and where to get free food from their closest pantry. There is also a mobile app, search for “Food Finder- Fighting Hunger.”
- Text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find the closest participating Summer BreakSpot location with free meals available. Residents can also call 2-1-1 to speak with a live operator for additional information.
- Duval County Public Schools is handing out free, “Grab and Go” sack lunches and snacks at all DCPS schools from 11 am until 1 pm, Monday through Friday. You must have a child present in order to be given a lunch, but you do not have to go to your child’s specific school.
- If you or someone you know is in search of emergency child care services, call the Early Learning Coalition of Duval County at (904) 208-2040 to find a provider who is still open and has available space.
- The YMCA is providing limited options for first responders’ childcare. They also are offering a School’s Shout Out Camp, with very limited seating, for healthy children, at the following YMCA locations: Dye Clay Family YMCA, Barco Newton YMCA, Ponte Vedra YMCA, duPont YMCA Youth Development Campus, YMCA Yulee Kids Campus, Flagler Center YMCA, YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village. For more details or to enroll online visit FCYMCA.org
- For students who may need internet access, Comcast is offering short-term free internet access for families that qualify.
- Xfinity WiFi hot spots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. Once at a hot spot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hot spots, and then launch a browser.
- Florida Blue and New Directions Behavioral Health have teamed up to offer a hotline to help Floridians deal with their anxiety over the COVID-19 crisis. Specially trained behavioral health counselors will answer the phone 24-hours a day and offer assistance in both English and Spanish. To receive assistance, please call 833-848-1762.
- Full Service Schools will continue to provide mental health therapists to DCPS students. The therapists are available via telehealth. If your child needs mental health services, contact their school to be put in touch with their therapist.
- Get support regarding your anxiety or stress by speaking to a trained counselor at SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting TalkWithUS 66746.
- The Centers for Disease Control provides helpful information regarding mental health and coping during a disaster, including tips to reduce stress.
- JEA is suspending service disconnections for customers unable to pay their bills during the COVID-19 disaster. You should not have your power or water cut off for failure to pay.