Eviction cases piling up in Central Florida as moratorium ends

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — With the start of the new month, millions of Americans who are behind on their rent could be forced out of their homes.

The moratorium on evictions that was put in place because of the pandemic was lifted over the weekend.

Even while the moratorium was in place, landlord were filing for evictions at local courthouses, resulting in a large pileup of cases.

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Soon, unless something changes, many people will be forced to move out.

Attorney Moses DeWitt represents landlords who still had bills and mortgages to pay, but were losing out on rent payments.

While he knows a lot of people are really hurting, his clients have many renters who they believe took advantage of the moratorium to stay in their homes rent-free.

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“Certainly landlords have been very frustrated with the moratorium being in place,” DeWitt said. “A lot of them were already in arrears before the pandemic even came into place. And they sort of use that to their advantage, to further delay the eviction.”

But for those truly hurting, this could be a big blow.

“We’re seeing people that are very worried, very concerned, because some people have applied for emergency rental assistance, and haven’t gotten the checks yet,” said Jeffrey Hussey with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, a nonprofit that helps those in need with legal services.

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He said for those facing eviction, applying for rental assistance is key.

Hussey said he knows many evictions have already been filed at the courthouse, and just have to make it through the final court process.

He said he expects many more will be filed in the coming weeks in Central Florida, and the process moves quickly.

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“Once they start up, (it) could be hundreds of thousands of evictions a week that’ll go forward,” Hussey said.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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