JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – To help renters affected by the pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis extended his order preventing foreclosures and evictions in Florida for tenants who can prove they’ve been affected by the pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued a nationwide order, which told landlords not to evict people if they have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and can not pay rent. The halt on evictions is through Dec. 31.
“I can say, I’ve never seen something like this is 30 years practicing law,” said Jim Kowalski, president and CEO of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. “But, if you had to pick something that was the broadest exercise of a federal government authority, disease would be it.”
Under the order, tenants can’t be evicted if they provide a copy of a signed declaration to their landlord, acknowledging they meet several criteria including loss of income. The orders extends through the end of 2020.
“That order says that it doesn’t apply in a state that has more protections. But because in Florida, the governor’s order expires every month, an order that lasts until December would automatically have more protection, and so the CDC order may well apply statewide in Florida over the governor’s order,” explained Kowalski.
The order does allow renters to evict for reasons other than not being able to pay rent, such as criminal activity, or causing significant damage.
Mike Collins, president of Green River Property Management, said they are doing everything they can to help tenants, but the pandemic is having an impact on business because some property owners are afraid to rent and some tenants can’t pay.
“My company is a mid to larger size company for Jacksonville and it has probably about a 25 percent decline in our net operating profit,” said Collins.
The web site Eviction Lab estimates there are more than 7.1 million renters in Florida. A second eviction tracking site says 1.1 million of them are at risk of eviction.
Kowalski said Jacksonville Area Legal Aid has several resources to help with rental assistance, including FloridaEvictionHelp.org.