Read below for advice that every Florida renter and homeowner should know during COVID19. This guide has been updated on January 21, 2021.
FEDERAL HALT ON EVICTIONS:
- The CDC and Congress have put int place a temporary halt on some evictions in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 “due to economic hardship.” The order is now set to expire on March 31st.
- The federal eviction order protects any tenant or resident of a residential property in the U.S. who meets five factors and provides their landlord with a declaration indicating such.
- Those five factors are: (1) You have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; (2) You expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return); OR you were not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS; OR you received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check); (3) You are unable to pay full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; (4) You are trying to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as your circumstances may permit; (5) Eviction would likely make you homeless or force you to move into a homeless shelter or into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters.
- The tenant must indicate in the declaration that they have used all their best efforts to obtain available government assistance for rent or housing. PLEASE READ MORE HERE.
DECLARATION FORM FOR THE FEDERAL EVICTION MORATORIUM:
- This is a one pager from the Alliance for Housing Justice that reviews eligibility on the CDC’s halt on evictions, and a sample declaration form.
- Click here for a Declaration Form Builder.
- Click here for another sample Declaration Form.
- It is really important that you do not lie with this Declaration Form because the penalties are severe.
- Remember this expires on January 31st, you MUST STILL pay rent that is due — this order does not eliminate rent that is due.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS IN NEW CONGRESSIONAL RELIEF PLAN:
- Florida is receiving $1.4 Billion in rental assistance from federal government and we are now just waiting for those programs to be announced locally.
- Eligible households are defined as renter households who: (1) have a household income not more than 80 percent of AMI; (2) have one or more household members who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and (3) have one or more household members who qualify for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic.
- Assistance will be prioritized for renter households whose incomes do not exceed 50 percent of AMI (Area Median Income) as well as renter households who are currently unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 or more days. Financial assistance provided under this section is non-taxable for households receiving such assistance
- Please contact your local County Commissioner and/or City Commissioner to see what rental assistance programs may be available.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FACE AN EVICTION OR FORECLOSURE?:
- Immediately look into the CDC Order and see if you qualify for those protections. If you do, move forward with providing a signed Declaration Form to your landlord ASAP. In Orange County, the declaration MUST be filed within the 5 day eviction answer period. The implication is that if it’s filed late, it has no effect or protection.
- Also consider contacting a local Legal Aid organization. If you do not qualify, still contact a local Legal Aid organization to see what options you may have.
- Unfortunately there are no new protections from foreclosures at this time. We encourage anyone facing late payments to attempt and contact the company debt is owed to, to see if a payment plan can be established. Again, contact your local legal aid organization for support.
LOCAL RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS:
Please contact your local County Commissioner and/or City Commissioner to see what rental assistance programs may be available. A Google search will help you identify these local officials if you are not sure who they are.
ORANGE COUNTY EVICTION DIVERSION PROGRAM:
If you live in Orange County, click here to learn more about the eviction and diversion program. This program is available to January 29th or until money is gone. Congress did provide $25 billion in rental assistance so expect more rental assistance soon, too.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS:
It is SO important that you know your rights as a tenant. Despite there being no state moratorium, there are still some federal protections for renters (and homeowners) provided under the CARES Act.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides substantial relief for some homeowners and some protection for renters.
The CARES Act provides up to a year of forbearance to homeowners with mortgages backed by federal loans, while providing similar forbearance for owners of multi-family units (i.e. landlords) with federally backed mortgages; it also prevents landlords with federally backed mortgages from evicting their tenants.
COMMUNICATE TO YOUR LANDLORD:
Always express to your landlord the efforts you are making to pay rent. Explain to them the broken unemployment system, and the lack of CARES Act relief coming your way. Ask if they sought forbearance from their mortgage, and/or see if a payment plan can be crafted. Also confirm if the mortgage is federally-backed, or if the apartment was constructed via low-income housing tax credits. As you saw above, the CARES Act does provide additional protections for some renters.
SEEK LEGAL SUPPORT:
If you are facing an eviction or foreclosure, please seek leal support. Below are pro-bono options.
You can also call Florida Bar lawyer referral at (800) 342- 8011 or locally to the Orange County Bar association lawyer referral at (407) 422–4551 for lease issues.
HOMELESS AND/OR PRECARIOUSLY HOUSED
Many Central Floridians live in hotels or find themselves homeless. Here are a list of resources to consider if you and/or your family are in this situation.
- Call 211 for an assessment to be conducted, more here: https://www.211.org/
- Central Florida Commission on Homelessness: https://www.cfch.org/
- Visit a Community CES HUB or Access Site to speak with someone about eligibility for housing programs.
- Locations Here: https://www.cfch.org/get-help/
- Homeless Services Network: https://www.hsncfl.org/
- Coalition For The Homeless: https://www.centralfloridahomeless.org/
- Salvation Army: https://salvationarmyflorida.org/orlando/
- HOPE Team: https://hcch.org/homeless%20outreach.htm
- Pathways To Home: https://www.pathwaystohome.org/apply-for-help/
Precariously Housed (Living in Hotel or Motel)
- Community Resource Network:https://www.communityresourcenetwork.com/
- Family Promise of Greater Orlando: https://familypromiseorlando.org/what-we-do/
- Matthew’s Hope: https://www.matthewshopeministries.org/home
If you are a Floridian who lives in one of our motels or hotels facing eviction, please visit this link to know your rights and seek pro-bono legal support.