With a little more than four hours to spare, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis extended his statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to July 1, as part of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The extension, which came as another executive order, was time-stamped at 7:06 p.m. and was publicly announced around 7:45 p.m. Without this order, the moratorium would have expired at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Local officials and housing lawyers alike have been preparing for the expiration, as DeSantis had not given any hints that he would extend it. Earlier Monday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told the Tampa Bay Times that they would begin serving writs of possession, the final stage of the eviction process that involves law enforcement removing tenants, starting Tuesday, for certain cases that had already reached that stage just before DeSantis issued his original suspension.
According to Tom Scherberger, spokesman for the Office of the Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Court, there were about 180 such cases that would have begun moving forward.
In light of the extension, the sheriff’s office confirmed they will hold off on enforcing those evictions.
Tom DiFiore, team leader of the housing unit at Bay Area Legal Services, which defends low-income tenants against eviction in court, had said earlier Monday that he expected the expiration of DeSantis’ order to prompt a wave of new eviction filings from landlords who had been holding off while it was in effect.
When the news of the extension broke, he praised it, saying it will “temporarily prevent many local families who, through no fault of their own, are facing homelessness.”
DiFiore added that this will give renters more time to get back to work or receive long-awaited unemployment benefits to help them work things out with their landlords outside of court, “and avoid an eviction filing that has a terrible adverse effect on their ability to rent in the future.”
Times staff reporter Christopher O’Donnell contributed to this report.
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