With Eviction Relief Extended, The Future Is Again On Hold For Renters And Landlords
As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues a piecemeal approach to stopping evictions, the questions are piling up about what happens if - and when - the relief ends.
Monday night's extension of Florida's rent moratorium signaled another moment of relief for renters while landlords will once again be halted from evicting tenants. For the past five months, Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued late extensions for the moratorium within hours of it expiring.
But beyond the month-to-month relief, what is eventually at stake for renters and landlords is becoming clear. What happens if the statewide moratorium is finally lifted?
"We're going to be faced with a tsunami of cases, of people who are going to be facing immediate evictions. We're going to be facing an onslaught of new cases," said William Pena Wells, a St. Petersburg attorney with Gulfcoast Legal Services. "Basically here at Gulfcoast and every other agency that tries to help distressed tenants, we're going to be overwhelmed with requests."
On Tuesday's episode of Florida Matters, host Bradley George talked with Pena Wells and Stephannie Stokes, a reporter who covers housing for public radio station WABE in Atlanta.
Stokes provided perspective on the housing situation in Georgia, which is more uncertain. Stokes said unlike Florida, Georgia never had a rent moratorium.
But the state's courts did effectively shut down at the start of the pandemic, which halted eviction hearings. They have since resumed virtually. Those hearings are part of the process toward "final action" when a landlord finally asks a tenant to vacate the property.
Here is a highlight from the episode:
Bradley: As you talk to people who are facing thousands of dollars in back rent and as you talk to landlords as well, what's the sense that you get that these two sides are able to come to some agreement or understanding?
Stephannie: I think one thing that makes it complicated here...is that Georgia does not allow landlords to continue with the eviction after tenants pay any amount toward their past due. So that's a weird dynamic where landlords forgo some of their rights almost by accept partial payment.
Bradley: William, what does the law in Florida say about partial payment of rent or payment plans?
William: Basically most landlords won't accept partial payments because it does cause the loss of rights.