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 January 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?
Contact Legal Services to see if we can provide you with legal assistance.
My landlord obtained an eviction order before the COVID-19 crisis started. What happens to my case?
If the court already entered a judgment against you and ordered you evicted, you will not be removed by the police if your case was filed after March 12, 2020. As of December 30, 2020, the Miami-Dade Police Department is not physically removing tenants for cases which were filed after March 12, 2020. However, this policy could change at any time.
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.
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 live in Miami Dade Public Housing; can I be evicted during the Crisis?
If you live in Miami Dade public housing, there is a county ordinance which prevents Miami Dade County from moving forward with the eviction case while there is a state of emergency. If Miami Dade County is proceeding with an eviction against you contact Legal Services right away.
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.
Based on the guidance issued by HUD, the CARES Act moratorium protects tenants from being terminated from the program for non-payment until July 25, 2020.
The conditions in my property are terrible and my landlord will not fix anything, what can I do?
The COVID-19 crisis may delay a landlord’s ability to make repairs. For non-urgent repairs, tell your landlord and give your landlord time to make repairs. 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.
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.
The landlord is telling me I cannot use some of the common areas because of the COVID-19 crisis, what can I do?
Review your lease to see if it addresses what happens when common areas are not open. However, it is important to remember that we are going through an unprecedented public health crisis. Under these circumstances, many landlords may limit access to common areas such as pools. During this crisis, it is unlikely that courts would require your landlord to reduce your rent or require the landlord to give you access to those common areas.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT
How many economic impact payments will I receive from the federal government?
How much will my economic impact payment be?
$1,200 per adult and $500 per child under age 17. To receive the full payment, your adjusted gross income reported on your federal tax return must be $75,000 for a single filer, $150,000 for a married couple, and $112,500 if you file as a head of household. You can find your adjusted gross income on line 8b of your 2019 tax return. Click here for a what you need to know about the economic impact payment.
Who qualifies for the economic impact payment?
Anyone with a valid social security number and some members of the military. If you are listed as a dependent on someone’s tax return, you will not receive a payment.
If I receive Social Security or disability payments, am I eligible?
How will I receive the payment?
The government will distribute the payment into the same bank account where it sent your tax refund. If you did not give the IRS your banking information, the IRS plans to create a website to provide your banking information. For more information about this process, visit the IRS: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know. Click here for more information, if you still still need to file.
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.
ECONOMIC STIMULUS FAQs
Is it true that I am going to receive a check from the government?
Yes, the government is sending most people $1,200, plus $500 for each child under the age of 17. The only exceptions are for those persons residing in the U.S. who do not have proper immigration papers, those that are claimed as dependents on another person’s tax return and those people who earn more than $75,000 (though they will receive a lesser amount).
How can I be sure to get this money?
The best way to ensure you get the money is to file a 2019 tax return and to include your direct deposit information on the tax return. You can contact a VITA or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site for assistance. Call 2-1-1 or visit branchesfl.org to make an appointment.
What if I have not filed a 2019 tax return and never do?
If you are already getting a federal benefit such as Social Security, SSI and VA benefits, the IRS is authorized to send the payment to the same bank account you use to receive this federal benefit. Otherwise, use the IRS’s Non-Filer tool at IRS.gov.
What if I receive Social Security or SSI and have children 16 years old and younger?
You should use the IRS’s Non-Filer tool on its website IRS.gov to enter your information so that you get the additional $500 per child.
Will I still get the money if my tax refund is usually taken to payoff my student loan debt?
Yes, most federal offsets have been turned off, such as, for student loans, Social Security and unemployment compensation overpayments. However, the refund will be offset for certain past due child support obligations.
I owe the IRS money and have been making payments. What should I do now that I lost my job and cannot afford to make payments?
All payments due on IRS installment agreements are suspended through 7/15/2020.
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 December 31, 2020. The interest rate is 0% through December 31 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?
The relief you can get on mortgage payments varies by who owns your loan. If you have a mortgage held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (federally backed mortgages), or if you have a VA, FHA, or USDA mortgage, then foreclosures are suspended until December 31, 2020. The lender may not file any foreclosure lawsuit, move for a foreclosure judgment, order a sale, or execute a foreclosure-related eviction or foreclosure sale. In addition, homeowners affected by COVID-19 who have any of the mortgages listed above can request and obtain forbearance from mortgage payments for up to 180 days, and then request and obtain an additional forbearance for up to another 180 days. You can use this link to find out who owns your mortgage:
If your loan is not owned by one of these federal agencies, then contact your lender. The lender may offer you a temporary suspension or reduction of mortgage payments.
No matter who owns your loan, Governor DeSantis issued an Executive Order suspending any mortgage foreclosure sales if the nonpayment by the homeowner was because of COVID-19. This executive order expires September 30, 2020.
INFORMATION FOR PARENTS
Is my child being assigned school work while schools are closed?
Yes. Miami-Dade County Public Schools are offering distance learning programs and assistance for families who may not have the computers or tablets to do this. You can register your child or learn more by calling the Distance Learning Help Desk (305-995-HELP).
Will schools still be providing meals while closed?
Yes. Many schools are providing grab-and-go meals in the morning and evening. Visit http://api.dadeschools.net/WMSFiles/223/pdfs/M-DCPS%20Meal%20Distribution%20List%20-%20UPDATED2.pdf
My child has a disability and an IEP. Will she still receive the services she was provided at school?
Because schools are physically closed, but public education is still being provided by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, your child must continue to receive access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). That might look different than what you’re used to, but your child’s disabilities must be accommodated. According to the federal Department of Education, “schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504.”
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
City of Miami & United Way Assistance
Miami-Dade County is partnering with United Way of Miami-Dade to provide short-term assistance for basic living expenses through The Miami-Dade Pandemic Assistance Program.
The program aims to provide hard-working individuals and families with assistance for necessities such as food, utilities, childcare, medical expenses and rental assistance among others. If you have experienced a significant loss of income, become unemployed, underemployed and/or experienced unexpected expenses as a result of COVID-19 and are a resident of Miami-Dade County, you can apply for assistance beginning August 5.
The application is available in English, Spanish and Creole by visiting apply.unitedwaymiami.org/submit. For additional assistance, you can call 305-646-7068.
The Miami-Dade Pandemic Assistance Program is funded by the federal CARES Act. United Way of Miami-Dade will distribute the $20M in relief funds to residents who meet hardship assistance criteria.
Other COVID-19 resources available:
Call 2-1-1 where English, Spanish and Creole speakers are available to assist.
Housing Assistance & Shelters
Miami-Dade County will temporarily suspend housing evictions and water cut-offs until further notice. This means that law enforcement officers will not help landlords in removing tenants or serving evictions.
If you are an FPL customer and are unable to pay your bill at this time, please click here for more information.
If you have been laid off, unable to work, or not being paid because of COVID-19, you can apply for Reemployment Assistance online or via phone. For more information visit the Deparment of Economic Opportunities' official website: http://floridajobs.org/
SeniorLiving.org has created a guide with detailed information for all 50 states and explores the federal and state regulations in place for these communities, especially in regards to cost, health and safety. It also provides information on enforcement and how to obtain data on how closely a specific facility adheres to the regulations. Please click here for guide.
Please call 211 to access health and human services including assistance in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties for food banks, financial assistance, and domestic violence hotlines. This hotline is 24-hours and provides information in English, Spanish, and Creole.
Other Agencies and Legal Providers
Americans for Immigrant Justice
AI Justice’s offices are currently closed to walk-ins. AI Justice is providing services virtually.
To access services, please call (305) 573-1106, ext 1400 for the receptionist
All information is subject to change and for additional details the specific organization should be consulted.