SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -Eviction protections were set to expire today for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but Governor Ron DeSantis changed that ruling overnight. For the 5th time since this pandemic began, the governor has signed an executive order extending that moratorium for evictions and foreclosures. Those that can’t pay their bills because of their situation during this pandemic, now have a new expiration date - October 1st.
“I was scared. The night club that I worked at was closed. They were telling me to file for unemployment, and I was using my savings. Unemployment didn’t go through for a really long time – I actually never got it. They never called me or emailed me back, and I sat on the phone for hours,” explained Sarasota resident, Hope Karam.
Karam is one of the thousands of people who found themselves in a tough situation from one day to the next because of this pandemic. Most rent and mortgage payments are due today as it being the first day of the month, but this extension gives those directly impacted by COVID-19 another temporary relief – they will not have to pay their housing bills just yet.
“I’ve been very blessed to get the help that I got, but if I didn’t have it, I would be homeless,” expressed Karam.
On the other side of this though, this is another month that landlords who depend on these monthly payments will be left without any of that income.
“You feel for those people. There are people that have a COVID-related emergency, but then there’s people that are just using the system,” Alyssa Nohren, a real estate attorney at Icard Merrill that represents dozens of landlords, tells us.
She says that although this executive order continues to say that landlords cannot evict those behind on their monthly payments, she’s happy that it also now says tenants need to prove that they are without a job or have gotten a significant pay cut because of COVID-19. Plus, when they are back on their feet, all accrued rent payments dating back to April when the moratorium was first put in place, will be due.
“Other than the loss of the income, basically they’re going to be stuck supporting a tenant without any compensation for the costs that they have to pay for the property ownership like mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance and upkeep,” said Nohren.
That’s where local governments like Sarasota County are hoping to help. They have received a distribution of about $695,000 in relief funds from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
“People who are at 80% or below the area median will be able to apply. There is a maximum of $9,000 in assistance available to each household or up to five months of rental assistance. This can be a combination of current rent and rental arrears,” Cindy Emshoff, Interim Manager for the Sarasota Office of Housing and Community Development, tells ABC7.
The Rental Assistance Program in Sarasota County will give the money directly to the landlords to make sure they are being helped during these tough times, as well. Applications will be made available starting on September 8th online and at public libraries throughout the county.