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Fort Myers lawyer says evictions could flood the courts starting tomorrow

Fort Myers lawyer says evictions could flood the courts starting tomorrow
Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 19:33:32-04

FORT MYERS — Thousand of people struggling to make rent could be in danger of losing their homes starting tomorrow.

The ban on evictions and foreclosures, put in place in April by Governor DeSantis, expires tomorrow, and so far, he hasn’t announced any plans to extend it.

The data from the Department of Economic Opportunity shows unemployment is now at almost 13% in Florida, the highest it’s been in more than 40 years. Thanks to the Governor’s Executive Order, more than a million people, who are currently accepting unemployment, can at least keep a roof over their head. But on Tuesday, that all comes to an end.

“Everything has just been hitting this wall, and if the Governor doesn’t extend tomorrow, that dam’s going to break, and it’s just going to be a flood of litigation," said Holly Cosby, an eviction attorney in Fort Myers.

In Lee County, more than 11,000 people filed for relief through the county’s Homelessness Prevention Program just last week. But if they missed payments in previous months, and their landlord has already sent them a notice, Cosby said that landlord can immediately start eviction proceedings on Tuesday.

“A lot of people are what I call standing on the edge of the double dutch ropes. They’re just sort of waiting to see what’s going to happen, and June 2nd, they jump in and get going," said Cosby.

But Cosby said, because so many landlords are expected to file, it will take a lot longer than usual.

“I usually, uncontested, was able to get an eviction done in 30 days, or maybe a little less. I think that timeframe is really unrealistic at this point. I think that landlords are going to just have to, and if I were to predict, I would say probably it’s going to be double that," said Cosby.

But ultimately, Crosby said she hopes most people can stay out of the legal system and in their homes.

“My full belief, as far as litigating and lawyering goes, is that when somebody gets to court, everybody loses. So try to work it out," said Cosby.

But if the eviction ban goes away tomorrow in Florida, there is still one exception to the rule. Federally-backed mortgages are still protected from foreclosure until June 30th. Those come from either Freddie Mac, or Fannie May. So those homeowners would still have a little bit of breathing room.