Could Florida Face an Eviction Flood After Moratorium Ends

July 20, 2020

With a few exceptions, renters in Florida still have some protections against eviction. But there are fears that the state's landlords may move quickly to evict in-arrears tenants once those protections expire. 

On the last day of June, Florida Governor DeSantis extended the state's eviction moratorium for another month. That will give residential renters continued rent relief until August first.  

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported about a third of Floridians who rent homes or apartments are now at least one month in arrears. You might think that's a catastrophe for landlords. But Amanda Gill, government affairs director for the Florida Apartment Association, said things aren't too bad for the state's landlords.

"Overall, they've been pleasantly surprised industry-wide with (rent) collection rates during this time. And we think that's a testament to the additional $600 of federal stimulus funds that folks are getting weekly for unemployment. Also, we've seen a lot of local governments across the state of Florida that have established rental relief funds, and we believe those are playing an important role in addressing this need as well." 

But the executive director of Legal Services of North Florida's Leslie Powell Bourdreaux cautioned no program intended to help tenants will last forever. 

"Many (tenants) have rental assistance support, but they don't have enough to meet the need that we're anticipating coming this way. We see ourselves as a part of that solution. If rental assistance is not available to prevent someone's eviction, is it possible to defend their eviction? How can we collectively work together to improve the results for everyone? In my mind, I look at this as homelessness prevention. How can we keep a family from becoming homeless by defending that eviction?"

Still, no one can say for sure what might happen as the pandemic ramps up, the economic downturn deepens, and both tenants and landlords find themselves coming up short every month.

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