COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in
This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.
This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Its information is taken from these sources:Florida Rural Legal ServicesFlorida Supreme Court orderFlorida Governor orderLegal Services of Greater MiamiPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerFlorida governor extension of moratorium
- Are there any special eviction protections for Florida renters during the COVID-19 emergency?
Yes, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued and extended an eviction moratorium that lasts through August 1, 2020.
Florida renters may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
- What do the eviction protections mean for Florida renters?
The governor's order means that through August 1, 2020 in Florida:
- Your landlord can still give you a notice of termination.
- Your landlord cannot file an eviction claim against you if you did not pay rent because of the COVID-19 emergency.
- Courts can still proceed with eviction cases for reasons that are not based upon non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 emergency.
- Law enforcement can still enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency in Florida?
Yes, Florida renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during the COVID-19 emergency in Florida?
Through August 1st in Florida, your landlord cannot file an eviction claim against you if you did not pay rent because of the COVID-19 emergency. Renters in other situations may still be evicted.
Law enforcement can still enforce an existing eviction order against you, or move forward a case not related to COVID-19.
Once the emergency period ends, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.
- You may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during COVID-19?
Some Florida renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. Utilities can still be shut off during the emergency, but some electric companies have suspended shut offs. Check for more information.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
- Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
- Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
- After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.