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Some Want More Than Expansion Of Moratoriums For Evictions and Foreclosures Not Enough

As foreclosures surge around the country, the supply of housing counselors to help distressed homeowners has shrunk.
As foreclosures surge around the country, the supply of housing counselors to help distressed homeowners has shrunk.

Floridians will not have to worry about being evicted for failure to pay their rent or mortgage until July 1. Governor Ron DeSantis has extended a moratorium on mortgage foreclosure and evictions. However, some believe the extension is not enough.

Florida Legal Services Amy Liem says for tenants who’ve lost a job and are still working on gaining employment need more than another month to fully pay their bills.

“Florida’s response has to be a holistic approach that doesn’t just look at quickly trying to fix the evictions issue," Liem said. "It has to look at unemployment compensation reform and you know with loss of jobs often comes loss of health insurance.”

For people who can’t afford to pay their rent or mortgage, Florida Legal Services is recommending they negotiate a payment plan with their landlord and to make sure agreements are written and signed. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) thinks more should be done.

"He can work directly with big banks and lenders to secure mortgage forbearance during this emergency and through the recovery," Guillermo Smith said.

Guillermo Smith also wants DeSantis to issue an executive order to waive the deposit requirement required by tenants wanting to fight evictions in court.

A lot of times the tenants, they can’t meet that deposit they can’t pay that amount upfront which is required by Florida law to be able to have their day in court to defend themselves against evictions," Guillermo Smith said. "So many times actually these tenants just lose the conviction case by default because they can’t make that deposit they are evicted."

Guillermo Smith says DeSantis should work with landlords who lease to college students. University campuses began closing in March and recommending students in dorms return home. Those who live off-campus however have been stuck in leases signed in cities where they were once physically attending class.

“There’s a tremendous number of privately run off-campus student housing apartment complexes. And these landlords have been very aggressive in making sure that the tenants pay rent and imposing fines and penalties," Guillermo Smith said.

Guillermo Smith wants the Governor to allow students to break leases to apartments they no longer occupy.

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