WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — President Biden is asking Congress to extend the CDC’s eviction ban, currently set to expire on July 31.
The current ban allows for tenants to be legally evicted through the court system but not removed from their homes by law enforcement.
Attorney Iola Mosely, with Florida Rural Legal Services. is representing clients facing eviction and is expecting a wave of removals and fresh eviction cases if the moratorium expires over the weekend.
“I’m expecting that there are going to be a large number of people who – but for the moratorium have not been removed from their homes – to start being removed,” she told CBS12 News in an interview.
Mosley told CBS12 News the vast majority of her clients missed work or had hours curtailed during the early months of the pandemic. They are now struggling to pay back owed rent, even if they’ve returned to work. She expects that, if the moratorium expires on Saturday, many of those facing backlogged rent will be without a place to stay.
“Saturday the moratorium expires. Monday the writs [of possession] are coming in. Monday and Tuesday people are out of their homes,” she added.
Some landlords, however, are anxiously waiting for the CDC’s ban to expire. Paul Howard, President of the Florida Landlord Network, explains that landlords have been expected to continue to make payments on their properties, even if they aren’t collecting rent.
Howard calls that unfair.
“I can tell you a number of landlords I know who filed evictions in February and March and they were stayed and the people are still living in the house and not paying rent. That’s a big deal,” he said. “You have no income but you have the same expenses. It’s pretty serious stuff.”
Howard is also bracing for a flood of removals on Monday, if the moratorium expires. However, he says that eviction cases have largely moved along unabated in Florida, after Governor DeSantis lifted the state’s eviction ban last year.
A relatively small number of tenants, Howard explains, have been legally evicted by a judge but allowed to stay in their homes because they’ve used the so-called “CDC form,” an option that will expire when the CDC’s eviction moratorium expires.
Mosley calls current conditions facing landlords and tenants alike a “double economic whammy.” She’s been helping clients apply for Palm Beach County rental assistance programs.
If tenants are deemed eligible, Mosley says the money is paid directly to the landlord – allowing the tenant to stay in their home and the landlord to stay afloat.
Palm Beach County told CBS12 News its distributed roughly $20 million in rental assistance since the outset of the pandemic and is expecting to distribute an additional $20 million. Much of the funding comes from the CARES Act and other federal programs.
Interested tenants can contact Florida Rural Legal Services through this link.