The Florida Senate is set to consider a bill that eliminates rent arrears that most tenants are required to pay before starting legal proceedings once evicted.
Senate Bill 582 removes rent arrears, which nullifies the tenant’s defenses.
In the revised version of the bill, the deleted section states that tenants should pay the court registry before continuing their legal proceedings.
According to the Office of the Administrator of State Courts, more than 47,000 Floridians filed for eviction in the 2020 pandemic year.
Eviction was also an ongoing issue in Florida last year after the Centers for Disease Control’s pandemic eviction moratorium expired.
According to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, the eviction process includes not only reimbursement of rent, but also a prompt response to the landlord’s eviction complaint.
If an eviction case loses in court, the judge will file a writ of possession and three days’ notice, according to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
Tallahassee Housing Authority executive director Brenda Williams believes the legislation is a step in the right direction. She also thinks lawmakers should work on affordable housing to help more low-income families who can’t afford current market prices.
“I believe it [SB 582] is a step in the right direction… but more funds should be made available to develop affordable housing. There’s not enough affordable housing to meet the needs of low-income families in Tallahassee,” Williams said.
Low-income families and people of color are at high risk of eviction nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Some evicted tenants also feel that this bill is a start, but not yet enough.
Freddie Gaines, a Tallahassee restaurant server, would like to see more resources to help evicted tenants.
“I think there needs to be more federal or state aid for that targeted purpose, especially when we’re going out every day and doing whatever we legally have to do to try and pay our bills,” he said. Sheaths.
Gaines also believes lawmakers should try to pass legislation that will remove eviction from tenant records. He says it would help tenants in their efforts to secure future homes.
“The most important thing is to remove it [eviction] records because it affects you trying to get a long-term spot,” Gaines said.
Another Tallahassee resident thinks the capital should have more funding for programs that help renters and homeless people year-round.
“Dedicated funds for programs like Leon Cares that were helping during COVID… something like that has to be ongoing to help people or what will happen is it will widen the homelessness rate gap. It is detrimental to the overall betterment of the community,” said the resident who requested that his name not be used.
Williams recommends that her evicted tenants seek help through Legal Services.
“Some residents seek assistance from Legal Services when faced with eviction, I recommend that they seek assistance from North Florida Legal Services,” Williams said.
While lawmakers only presented SB 582 to the prosecution, its companion, House Bill 6005, had its first reading last month.