Thousands of Central Floridians evicted since Florida eviction moratorium expired

ORLANDO, Fla. — We’re getting a better idea now of how many people have been removed from their rental properties through evictions since Florida’s eviction moratorium expired at the end of September.

Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray looked into how many times local deputies have served formal eviction notices in the last two and a half months, and found those numbers are quickly climbing into the thousands.

READ: Latest COVID-19 spike could leave even more Floridians vulnerable to evictions

The numbers represent both residential and commercial properties, but based on court filings, the majority are residential. It’s the first estimate of how many people in our community have been removed from their homes with fewer protections in the pandemic.

Florida’s eviction bubble could burst in the new year, as federal protections for renters expire and evictions filed after state protections ran out are finally processed.

READ: ‘There’s nowhere for them to go’: Central Floridians on brink of homelessness as pandemic worsens affordable housing crisis

“The state moratorium getting lifted didn’t have that much effect, because the CDC moratorium was in place, and it still is until the end of the year,” real estate attorney Barry Miller said. “There hasn’t been a huge rush, but there is definitely more evictions happening.”

We’re seeing that through the number of writs of possession being processed. That is the final court order in an eviction case, which prompts sheriff’s deputies to show up to renters’ doors, ordering them out within 24 hours.

READ: Pandemic to worsen Orlando’s affordable housing shortage

In Orange County, judges have granted 1,090 writs for commercial and residential evictions since the state’s eviction moratorium expired on Oct. 1. So far, deputies have served 980 notices to evict in that time.

Seminole County deputies have so far served 265 notices of nearly 550 approved by the court.

In Volusia, Brevard and Marion counties, the total number of notices served since Oct. 1 is more than 1,100.

READ: Residents of Orange County complex face deplorable conditions, evictions

“When they come back in 24 hours, if the property is not vacated by the tenant, the deputy will accompany the landlord, and the landlord has the right to remove the personal property of the tenant to the nearest right of way,” Miller said.

Miller said the best thing for tenants and landlords to do now is communicate, before it’s too late. For his clients, he’s suggesting the use of security deposits to help stretch until rental payments can be made, noting that landlords are in a tough spot without protections for missed mortgage payments.

READ: Orange County evictions spike, millions of dollars in assistance still available

“They’re willing to work with people, because that vacancy rate is so high, they realize it’s better to get something for rent, than nothing,” Miller said.

Miller does expect the CDC’s eviction moratorium to be extended, if not by the current administration, then by the Biden administration on Jan. 20. The problem for some renters is that the federal moratorium is much more restrictive than the state one.

Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.