Alexander fighting on behalf of renters who have been evicted

Photo by Shutterstock. Photo courtesy by WTXL Tallahassee.

The eviction moratorium was a temporary halt to evictions that began during the pandemic. It ensured that those who couldn’t afford rent at the time weren’t forced to leave their homes as a result of unemployment.

In August of last year, the United States Supreme Court ended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium, which left many renters questioning their livelihood.

Two months later, Florida state Representative Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) filed House Bill 511, also known as  “COVID-19 Eviction Information,” to prohibit consumer reporting agencies or companies that provide tenant screening services from including certain evictions and information relating to evictions if it occurred during a period when a public health emergency related to COVID-19 existed, according to the bill text.

This means that if the bill is passed, starting July 1, companies would not be allowed to hold past eviction notices against their future tenants if the eviction happened during COVID-19.

HB 511 co-sponsor, Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando), has a website page dedicated to “advice for Florida Renters & Homeowners” who may have faced or are facing evictions in Florida. The guide that was updated Feb. 28, includes links to rental and homeowner assistance programs, information on what to do if someone faces an eviction or foreclosure and resources for legal support.

Although some resources have been made accessible, the fight against evictions continues for residents throughout Florida.

Raymond Henry, a single father of three living in South Florida, told CBS Miami that he was served an eviction notice before Christmas.

“When COVID hit, Ray applied for Our Florida; renters’ assistance, which he was granted,” said CBS Miami. “They paid his landlord several months’ rent but shortly after that, the landlord sold the property to a new owner and kept the money.”

In Leon County, more than 6,000 people applied for Leon Cares rental assistance while about 2,500 were still waiting on their money, according to a report by WTXL last July.

Residents would be able to utilize HB 511 as a legal justification for why they may have received an eviction notice during the pandemic while they look for accommodations elsewhere in case the landlord rejects them due to their rental history.

A similar bill, SB 648, was filed by Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) on Sep. 27 and was introduced on Jan. 11. HB 511 had its first reading on Jan. 11.