DeSantis lets eviction moratorium expire

Pointing to a move by the federal government to halt evictions, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday let expire an executive order aimed at limiting evictions and foreclosures. DeSantis on Aug. 31 approved a one-month extension of an order to prevent foreclosures and evictions involving residents “adversely” affected by COVID-19. That order made clear foreclosures and evictions could move forward in circumstances unrelated to the pandemic, such as for non-payment of rent.

But on Sept. 4, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order to halt evictions through the end of the year “to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.” Under the order, renters have to sign a document provided by the CDC and give it to their landlords. It attests they have been financially affected by the pandemic and cannot pay rent, have tried to get government assistance to cover their bills and will become homeless or have to move in with friends or family if they are evicted.

In a memo Wednesday, DeSantis said he was allowing his executive order to expire to avoid confusion.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently enacted a nationwide residential evictions order that provides federal eviction relief to persons who submit a valid declaration to their landlord regarding their inability to pay rent,” the DeSantis memo said.

“(DeSantis’) Executive Order 20-211 had provided a limited, one-month extension of state eviction relief to persons affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Executive Order 20-211 pertaining to the state’s mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief was permitted to expire to avoid any confusion over whether the CDC’s evictions order should apply in a particular circumstance.”

The CDC moratorium has been challenged in court by the New Civil Liberties Alliance and the National Apartment Association, which believe the CDC doesn’t have the authority to issue it because it preempts state laws designed to protect landlords from delinquent tenants.

Housing advocates had urged DeSantis to extend the state’s moratorium in case the CDC order is not upheld.

In Escambia County, the county commission approved ae CARES Act housing assistance program that was supposed to help residents with past due rent and mortgage payments in the first two weeks of September. Applications were still waiting for their checks at the first part of this week.

-The News Service of Florida contributed to this article