Read below for advice that every Florida renter and homeowner should know during COVID19. This guide has been updated on July 12, 2021.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS:
- Orange County Rental Assistance: Click here to learn more
- City of Orlando: Their rental assistance program will be available soon.
- State of Florida, OUR FLORIDA: Click here to learn more
- Please contact your local County Commissioner and/or City Commissioner to see what rental assistance programs may be available.
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 July 31st.
- Read more here. Click here for CDC Declaration Form.
- On February 26th, a Texas federal district court judge ruled the CDC Order to be unconstitutional. But that ruling applies only to landlords that were plaintiffs in case and the Department of Justice does plan to appeal.
- 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:
- CLICK HERE FOR CDC FORM
- Click here for a Declaration Form Builder.
- It is really important that you do not lie with this Declaration Form because the penalties are severe.
- Remember this expires on June 30th, you MUST STILL pay rent that is due — this order does not eliminate rent that is due.
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.
- Most homeowners can temporarily pause or reduce their mortgage payments if they’re struggling financially. Click here to read more.
- Click here to read more about what people with federally backed mortgages can do.
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.
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)
- Hope Partnership: https://www.thehopepartnership.org/
- 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.
DETAILS OF AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN:
- President Biden signed into law on March 11 the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package with nearly $50 billion in essential housing and homelessness assistance, including $27.4 billion for rental assistance and $5 billion to assist people experiencing homelessness. The programs discussed above are funded by the American Rescue Plan.
- Read NLIHC’s analysis of the housing and homelessness provisions in the bill at: https://tinyurl.com/hh8sdjsy
- The plan also includes the Homeowner Assistance Fund which you can read more about here.
- If you are at least one month behind in rent and live in Orange County you may be eligible for the County’s Rental Assistance Program. Note that if you live in the City of Orlando, you will have to wait till their rental assistance program is available and are not eligible for Orange County’s program. Click here for Orange County’s Program, click here for Orlando’s program.
- Florida Dept. of Children/Families also launched new OURFlorida program for rental/utility assistance funded by the federal government. Learn more here: OURFlorida.com