This page is not intended as a substitute for legal advice, but rather is intended to provide legal information about the state of Landlord Tenant Law in Florida as of April 2021 and as it relates to the specific factual scenario contained in this page.
I’m behind on my rent
- Dial 211 and seek out any “rental assistance” programs.
- Head to Emergency Rental Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions – Pinellas County COVID-19 Response and Recommendations to see if you qualify for assistance
- See “CDC Declaration” below
I’ve had an eviction filed against me
From the time you have been served with the complaint from your landlord you have five (5) business days (not including the day you get served, weekends or Clerk observed holidays) to respond and deposit the amount claimed as owing into the court registry, or you risk defaulting and waiving your rights to protest the eviction.
An online self-help answer tool created by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid is available to assist you in your pro se (self-represented) response to the court:
- Go to the Eviction Court Form Builder
- Click the blue “I’m Ready” button half-way down the page, answer the questions… at the end it will allow you to save and print (or download) an “Answer”:
- Sign the Answer where indicated.
- Confirm both of your names are on the Answer as they could seek a default against the missing party.
The limited eviction protection provided by the CDC is not automatic nor guaranteed. It is important that review the CDC form to determine if you are eligible for this limited protection:
- Download the Eviction Protection Declaration form from the CDC website.
- Answer the questions on the form to the best of your abilities, using the HUD Exchange as a Q&A to answer any questions.
- Based on your stated financial COVID impact, if you can answer them truthfully, you may have some protection from an eviction until June 30, 2021, if you do the following:
- You are not a “covered person” until the declaration is actually delivered. If you have a court case filed against you, you will want to eFile these forms as an “Exhibit” along with the Answer, see below. If an eviction has not yet been filed in court, it is important to deliver this form directly to your landlord or property manager. It is also important to keep a record of the date and time of delivery.
For your convenience, the courts provide an online tool allowing you to submit documents electronically. If you do not have access to the internet or are uncomfortable with filing documents online, you can deliver the documents directly to the clerk of court office in the county where the court case was filed.
For step-by-step instructions on how to efile, click here E-Filing Instructions
What do I do next?
Once you’ve filled out the CDC declaration and provided an answer to the complaint against you, you need to consider a few factors:
- When is my lease up for renewal?
- When will I be able to keep up with my rent payments again?
- What are my other options for housing?
The CDC declaration provides a defense against an eviction filing. It is no guarantee that prevents you from being evicted. You need to seek any and all options in paying your rent and or vacating the dwelling from the moment you fall behind on rent. You cannot be evicted until an eviction is filed against you, and you cannot be physically evicted unless in the presence of a county sheriff. For additional legal assistance, please follow Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program – Prevent evictions related to Covid-19
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