Duval County

Local legal aid group creates tool for tenants facing eviction

There’s a new tool to help Floridians facing eviction.

The Jacksonville Area Legal Aid launched the online resource (FloridaEvictionHelp.org) this week to help you create a legal response if you’re served an eviction summons.

JALA President and CEO Jim Kowalski said evictions have restarted in Florida.

“There have been hundreds of evictions filed in Duval county since Monday, more than 200 in fact,” Kowalski said those numbers are coming from the clerk’s office.

Action News Jax reported in late June, Florida extended the eviction moratorium until at least Sep. 1.

However, it’s not a total ban on evictions.

Tenants are now required to prove to the court the reason they can’t pay rent is “because they are adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency.”

”Until Sept. 1, tenants have to file a response within five days and demonstrate the inability to pay is due to COVID-19,” Kowalski said.

“After Sept. 1, they still must respond within five days, but they won’t have the defense provided by the governor’s order unless that portion of the order is continued.” Kowalski said many Floridians may have to represent themselves in an eviction hearing.

“Not only is it scary, the rules are unfamiliar,” Kowalski said. “We wanted to be able to walk folks through how to do that on their own.”

That’s why they created the tool at FloridaEvictionHelp.org using a $74,000 grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

There are also concerns people may misunderstand the latest executive order and ignore eviction notices or court summons.

The online tool helps walks you through a series of questions based on your information and the eviction complaint.

At the end, it creates an eviction response tailored for you to file.

”That’s the first step of you presenting your information to the judge to show the judge the reason you couldn’t pay the rent or the reason you couldn’t pay your mortgage was because of the COVID-19 related income loss,” Kowalski said.

For more information on eviction resources, click here.