Post Eviction Moratorium Rental Assistance in Florida
Updated: May 26
LAST UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 25, 2021
On August 25, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court, struck down the Federal eviction moratorium (the “Moratorium”). For the government to impose a nationwide Moratorium on evictions, the Court held, the U.S. Congress would have to provide specific authorization.
The Moratorium was first implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on September 4, 2020. The latest extension of the Moratorium was set to expire on October 3, 2021. As a result of the Court’s ruling, millions of tenants are now at risk of being evicted. While some states still have a statewide eviction moratorium, Florida’s eviction moratorium expired over a year ago.
The sudden nullification of the Moratorium comes as millions of Americans continue to struggle to pay their bills. In a recent survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in July and August, about 7.9 million people reported being behind on rent, and about 3.6 million reported that they were at risk of being evicted in the next two months. Fortunately, the Federal government has allocated billions of dollars in rental assistance, which is still available regardless of whether there is a moratorium in place.
Of the $46 billion dollars in rental assistance that the Federal Government provided earlier this year, Florida received more than 2 billion dollars. State and local governments have established their own programs for distributing the assistance. Over time, these programs have changed, which has caused a fair amount of confusion. For example, over the following issues:
· Who qualifies for assistance?
· How to obtain assistance?
· How much assistance may be provided?
· Whether former recipients can reapply for assistance? and
· Whether assistance is still available?
In Florida, there are various rental assistance programs, but we will focus on Florida’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP); for more information on ERAP and other rental and related assistance programs, follow the links posted below.
As of September 2021, the current iteration of ERAP is called ERAP 2.3. Currently, under ERAP 2.3, households that qualify are eligible to receive payments for up to 12 months of rent arrears and household utilities such as gas and electric. This includes not only payments that are past due, but also future payments.
If you are a tenant who is behind on your rent due to a Covid-19 related job loss or illness, you are likely to qualify for emergency rental relief. Currently, in order to be eligible for rental assistance, tenants must meet the following criteria:
1. Have a household income that is less than 80% of the area median income (AMI), a requirement that is currently subject to recertification every three months,
2. Have at least one household member who is at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing housing insecurity, and
3. Have at least one household member who qualifies for unemployment insurance benefits or experienced a financial hardship due to the pandemic (directly or indirectly).
As of August 2021, the vast majority of rent relief funding being offered through state and local programs is still available for those who qualify.
Tenants who qualify for assistance should first consider communicating with their landlord about a path forward that does not include litigation. The landlord may not know that that the tenant qualifies, that rental assistance is still an option, or that these programs will pay both past and future rent. These payments are paid directly to the landlord, and in exchange the landlord will probably have to agree to not evict the tenant for a certain amount of time.
Tenants who are at risk of being evicted, should check state and local laws and programs to see if they qualify for rental assistance. Either party, the tenant or landlord, can research such programs. Either the landlord or the tenant are allowed to apply for assistance. If the tenant qualifies, both the landlord and tenant will have to fill out some paperwork, and hopefully the program will soon send a check to the landlord.
Over time, Florida’s rental assistance programs have continued to change, so make sure that before you rely on what you may have read or heard, that the information you are relying on is up to date.
The following are some links where you can find more information about how you might obtain rental, mortgage, and other housing assistance in Florida:
For millions of landlords and tenants, the last year and a half has been difficult and confusing, but there are programs and professionals available to help you navigate the difficulty. If you require legal assistance, you should consider contacting an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can call a local legal aid organization to see if you qualify for legal aid and-or for information regarding rental assistance. Either way, before taking any actions that may affect your rights, you should inform yourself about what options are available.
LAST UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 25, 2021
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The Bress Law Firm, PLLC is the legal practice of Michael N. Bress, attorney at law. Our areas of law are Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts, and Estates), Business Law, Property Law, and Landlord and Tenant Law. As a sole practice, we are able to provide high-quality representation that is tailored to your individual needs.
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