Thousands Evicted after State Moratorium Expires
To help struggling renters during the coronavirus pandemic, Governor DeSantis signed an eviction moratorium, which he subsequently extended. However, the Governor let the moratorium expire at the end of September.
The results have been dramatic. No full study has been performed of the number of evictions across the state. But piecemeal reports suggest that thousands of people have been evicted in the interim. In central Florida, for example, the sheriff’s department has issued thousands of writs of possession to residential renters. The numbers across the state could be several multiples of this—10,000 or more. Certainly, we have heard reports here in South Florida of people being evicted from their homes because they are behind on their rent.
Fortunately, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) put an eviction moratorium in place, but it had certain limitations that made it less than helpful. For example, an individual cannot earn more than $99,000 in income and must be making partial payments to qualify. They also needed to attest under penalty of perjury that they would be homeless if evicted.
Can Bankruptcy Stop an Eviction?
The CDC moratorium expires at the end of December, so the number of those evicted could increase dramatically. What looked like a steady trickle the past few months could quickly turn into a flood.
Fortunately, renters have options to prevent an eviction. One option is to file for bankruptcy. When you file, the bankruptcy court enters an automatic stay, which cuts off the ability of a creditor to take legal action to collect on a debt. The stay halts evictions, so renters gain some valuable breathing room to try and cobble together money to get current on their rent.
Of course, the stay does not last forever. A creditor can always ask the bankruptcy judge to lift it, and many will comply, so your eviction could start up in a few weeks. At the most, a Chapter 7 will protect you for a few months as your case works its way toward completion.
However, you might file for Chapter 13 protection instead of Chapter 7. With this bankruptcy, you could pay off your unpaid rent over the course of your payment plan so that you eventually get current. Your landlord might be willing to resign you to a new lease.
There are limits to the Chapter 13 approach. Although your landlord can’t evict you, they also do not need to renew your lease. Once your lease expires, you must leave. If you are approaching the end of your lease, then this option might only buy you a little time, like a Chapter 7.
Let Our Plantation Bankruptcy Lawyers Help
Losing your home is a scary experience, especially if you are out of work or have had your hours reduced due to the pandemic. At Nowack & Olson, we have helped many men and women stay in their homes. Let us review your situation to determine whether filing for bankruptcy will help. Call 888-813-4737 to schedule a free consultation with a Plantation bankruptcy lawyer.