COVID-19 Information and Resources
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ISSUES FOR RENTERS
Need assistance with drafting the answer to your eviction complaint? Use this Eviction Answer Builder
I don’t have enough money for this month’s rent, can my landlord evict me?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order entitled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19.” This order, which took effect on September 4, declares a national moratorium on certain residential evictions for nonpayment. The moratorium lasts through July 31, 2021. It applies only when tenants present their landlord with a signed declaration. The declaration must be signed under penalty of perjury.
To sign the declaration, you must meet five essential criteria. The tenant must:
• Expect to have income less than $99,000 in 2020, received a stimulus check, or was not required to report income to the IRS in 2019;
• Be unable to pay full rent due to an income loss or “extraordinary” medical bills;
• Have used best efforts to obtain governmental rent assistance;
• Be likely to become homeless or to “live in close quarters” in another residence if evicted; and
• Promise to use “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit.”
You should only sign this certification if all of the statements are true. Once you provide the declaration to the landlord, you should be temporarily protected from eviction for non-payment of rent, although the court may set a hearing in your case. Because of this, you must file a timely response to the eviction in court even if you give your landlord the certification. The CDC Order applies to most tenants facing eviction for non-payment. The Order should protect tenants at any stage of the eviction process. If your landlord is evicting you for another reason, the CDC order may not protect you and you should consult with a lawyer.
You can access a template for the CDC certification here.
If you receive an eviction, it is still important to respond to the eviction and seek legal assistance, even if you send the CDC certification to your landlord.
Contact Legal Services to see if we can provide you with legal assistance: https://www.legalservicesmiami.org/contact-hours
If I am protected from a non-payment eviction, do I still have to pay the rent?
Yes. Even if you have the protections of the CDC moratorium, you still owe the rent and will eventually have to pay it. During this time, you can also apply for rental assistance from the programs listed here: axishelps.org/rent
Contact Legal Services to see if we can provide you with legal assistance.
To learn more about the eviction process, read our brochure: How to Answer Your Eviction During and After COVID-19
To help you draft an answer to an eviction, use this website: http://floridaevictionanswerbuilder.org/
I think I am covered by the CDC Moratorium and my landlord filed an eviction. What should I do?
Complete the CDC Declaration and give it to your landlord. Contact Legal Services to see if we can provide you with legal assistance. Legal Services will either provide you representation or give you advice about how to respond to the eviction. Because you only have 5 days to respond to the eviction, it is important you contact Legal Services immediately.
A landlord may be subject to fines and criminal sanctions if they proceed with an eviction against you with knowledge that you are protected by the CDC moratorium. If your landlord is trying to evict you after you provided the landlord with the CDC form, you may want to consider filing a Complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). You can submit a complaint through the CFPB website which can be found here:
Filing a CFPB Complaint will NOT stop your eviction and you still need to take steps to respond to the eviction.
My landlord obtained an eviction order before the COVID-19 crisis started. What happens to my case?
If your landlord filed the eviction before March 12, 2020, you can be evicted by the Police Department if the landlord obtained an eviction order from the court. If the landlord filed the eviction after March 12, 2020, you could still be evicted, however, the county may first review your case to determine if the CDC moratorium applies or whether your landlord is willing to accept rental assistance from the county before allowing the physical eviction to go forward.
The CDC protections discussed above should protect renters at all stages of the eviction process, even if the court entered an eviction order against you. However, it is still important to file your certification with the court and ask the court to stay your eviction until after the CDC moratorium expires.
Contact Legal Services to see if we can provide you with legal assistance.
What documentation should I be keeping in order to assert the tenant protections discussed here?
You should keep documentation of any economic loss which is interfering with your ability to pay rent. This may include documentation of when and why you lost employment, or any recent medical bills.
Try to apply for all possible governmental assistance and rental assistance programs. Keep documentation of all of these efforts to obtain assistance.
Keep documentation of your communications with your landlord, and keep any receipts for any rental payments (including partial payments) you may have given the landlord.
I have a Section 8 voucher, public housing, or some other subsidized housing and I lost my job. What should I do?
Immediately report your loss of income so your rent can be adjusted. The next month’s rent should be based on your new income. If there is a delay in adjusting your rent because of the COVID-19 crisis, you should receive a retroactive rent adjustment.
The conditions in my property are terrible and my landlord will not fix anything, what can I do?
If the problems in your unit affect your health and safety, ask the landlord to make repairs right away. If the landlord won’t make repairs, send a letter to the landlord through certified mail demanding that the repairs are made within 7 days of the letter or you will withhold your rent. Also, review your lease for any other rights you may have. For more information about the rent withholding process, read our brochure on repairs or contact Legal Services.
My landlord wants to enter my home, but I do not want people in my home during this crisis. Can I stop my landlord from entering?
Maybe. If there is an emergency, like a burst pipe, your landlord can enter the home at any time. In other situations, like minor repairs, to show the property to new tenants, or for inspections, you cannot unreasonably withhold consent for the landlord to enter. Whether it is reasonable depends on the specific facts. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, it seems reasonable to tell the landlord to wear a mask or wait to enter your home, especially if you are in a self-quarantine. In all circumstances other than urgent emergencies, the landlord should give you at least 12-hours’ notice and only enter between 7:30 am and 8 pm. And, always review your lease to see if you have any other protections.
GET YOUR STIMULUS PAYMENT BY FILING YOUR TAXES
I lost my job, have substantially reduced hours, or was forced to take unpaid leave. What are my options:
You may file a claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits (a/k/a Reemployment Assistance) with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). To apply visit: https://connect.myflorida.com/Claimant/Core/Login.ASPX
For more information about Reemployment Assistance as it relates to COVID-19, including eligibility requirements and how to file a claim, please visit http://floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/ra-covid-19-faqs-eng.pdf?sfvrsn=805543b0_14. You may also call 800-204-2418 but it may be difficult to reach someone on the phone because of the large number of people calling.
I was denied reemployment assistance, what can I do?
You have a right to appeal your denial. You should immediately request an appeal hearing and contact Legal Services for legal assistance: https://www.legalservicesmiami.org/contact-hours
Do I have to pay taxes on unemployment benefits I received?
Yes, unemployment benefits are taxable. Read more here.
ISSUES RELATED TO CONSUMER DEBT
I can’t make my car payments and I need my car for work. What help is there for me?
First, call your lender as soon as possible and ask about any program you may qualify for. For instance, your lender may reduce your car payment or allow you to skip a payment and add it to the end of the loan. The lender may offer to refinance your loan all together with a lower interest rate that will reduce your car payment. However, make sure to be aware if the lender is extending the number of months to pay off the loan - for instance your 5-year loan is refinanced into a 7-year loan.
I have been paying my student loans but now that I lost my job, rent and food are my priority. What can I do about my monthly student loan payment?
You may be entitled to some relief, but it depends on the type of student loan you have. Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until September 30, 2021. The interest rate is 0% through September 30, 2021 on defaulted and non-defaulted Direct Loans, defaulted and non-defaulted FFEL Program loans and Federal Perkins loans.
This website gives more information on what the Department of Education is offering: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.
If you have a private student loan, contact your loan administrator right away to see what is available to you.
I haven't been able to make my mortgage payment since April 1 and I am scared of losing my home since I have young children and an elderly disabled mother. What should I do?
If you have an FHA, VA, or USDA mortgage, foreclosures are suspended through June 30, 2021. If you have a mortgage held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the foreclosures are suspended through March 31, 2021.
For borrowers of FHA, VA, and USDA mortgages who have not yet asked for a mortgage payment forbearance, the deadline to request an initial payment forbearance has been extended through June 30, 2021, and for borrowers who already obtained a payment forbearance on or before June 30, 2020, they may request up to two additional 3-month forbearance periods. Also, borrowers with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages who had a COVID-19 forbearance plan in place as of February 28, 2021, may apply for a 3-month forbearance extension, and those eligible for a payment deferral may now defer up to 15 months of payments. Deferred payments are repaid at the time the home is sold, refinanced or at mortgage maturity.
INFORMATION FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
What types of SBA loans are available for small businesses and nonprofits?
There are two forms of SBA loans available: Disaster Recovery Loans and Paycheck Protection Loans under the new CARES Act. For more information and to apply visit: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources#section-header-2 and https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program#section-header-2
Can nonprofits apply for Florida's new COVID-19 bridge loan program?
No, this program is only available for small businesses. For more information visit: http://floridasbdc.org/disaster/ebl/
Does your business need to have employees to apply for a Paycheck Protection Loan under the CARES Act?
Businesses that employ independent contractors may also apply, the loan amount is limited to $100,000. Please visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program#section-header-2 for more info on eligibility and how to apply.
Where can I go for more information concerning resources for small businesses and nonprofit organizations?
Visit https://www.flcommunitydevelopment.org/covid-19-resources for a list of updated resources for small businesses and nonprofits.
Local Resources During the COVID-19 Crisis
Call 2-1-1 where English, Spanish and Creole speakers are available to assist.
All information is subject to change and for additional details the specific organization should be consulted.