Eviction filings jump by hundreds in Duval County after weakening of statewide moratorium

Duval County after weakening of statewide moratorium

Author: David Jones

Published: 7:40 PM EDT August 10, 2020

Updated: 7:40 PM EDT August 10, 2020

"They did what they were supposed to do and they did stop evictions," said Mary DeVries, Managing Attorney of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, a non-profit that helps tenants with legal assistance. "We got a lot of calls but not necessarily a lot of evictions because there were no evictions going on."The expiration of the eviction moratorium was looming on Aug. 1. On that day in late July, though, the governor extended the moratorium while changing its wording.

Now, the wording of the new order, which expires Sept. 1, only stops final actions in eviction proceedings in which a tenant can prove non-payment of rent is due to losses from Coronavirus. "The burden is shifted to the tenant to raise that as an issue, whereas prior moratoriums stopped the lawsuits from being filed in the first place," DeVries said.

Due to the change, eviction proceedings have widely received a green light to move forward. For tenants with a case against them dealing with rent non-payment before COVID-19, evictions can be completed."Before, there were no evictions allowed. Period.

It didn't matter if you defaulted before COVID," said Tampa-area attorney Ryan Torrens, who specializes in foreclosures and consumer defense. "[Tenants] can try to submit documentation to the court and ask for a stay of eviction. But if their case didn't come about because of COVID, meaning their case was filed before COVID, they're probably gonna have a pretty small chance on that."

In Duval County, records show 219 eviction filings in court during the first week of August alone. On Monday, Aug. 3, nearly 100 cases were filed, marking the start of the first full business week since the moratorium was limited.

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