Evictions In Miami Being Put On Hold Due To Deadly COVID-19 Impact

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Written by Ann Brown
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Miami isn’t the only city to enact a moratorium on evicting tenants due to coronavirus. Others have done the same including NYC, San Francisco and Austin. The Miami-Dade Police Department has suspended eviction enforcement owing to the spread of coronavirus. Photo by Rental Realities / Flickr

The Miami-Dade Police Department has suspended eviction enforcement owing to the spread of coronavirus.Photo by Rental Realities / Flickr

The Miami-Dade Police Department has announced that its officers will not assist with evictions during the emergency declared by Mayor Carlos Gimenez due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An estimated 43 million households (or 109 million people) in the U.S. are renters, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Evictions occurred at an estimated rate of four every minute in 2016, the Eviction Lab reported.

The Miami-Dade Police Department said it has temporarily suspended all eviction activities until further notice. Officers will not assist landlords in removing tenants or serving court papers. In essence, this will freeze evictions until further notice.

“The only ones that can follow through on eviction orders is us,” said police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta. “From this point forward, those papers and those orders will not be processed.”

The decision to halt evictions over COVID-19 follows outrage in 2019 when county police assisted in evicting a 75-year-old from her South Beach apartment ahead of Hurricane Dorian. Gimenez said after the incident that the eviction was a mistake and the county would no longer be evicting people during emergencies, The Miami Herald reported.

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Miami isn’t the only city to enact a moratorium on evicting tenants due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other cities have done the same, including New York. 

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) along with apartment owners representing more than 150,000 rental units pledged to suspend eviction warrants for the next 90 days in light of “the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.”

“We will help our residents weather this crisis safely in their homes,” said REBNY Chairman William C. Rudin and REBNY President James Whelan in an open letter signed by nearly 30 building owners and managers.

“Starting immediately, we are voluntarily pledging that we will not execute any warrant of eviction for the next (90) days unless it is for criminal or negligent behavior that jeopardizes the life, health or safety of other residents,” the letter reads. “With all the stress, health risk and economic suffering going on now, no one should have to worry about losing their place to live during this crisis.”

“It would be both wrong and dangerous to kick people out of their homes during this public health emergency,” Laura Curran, county executive of Nassau County in Long Island, New York, tweeted.

In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed also issued a city-wide moratorium on evictions, which will initially last for a month.

“This moratorium will help people stay stable if they lose income because they get sick, a family member gets sick, or their job is impacted by the economic damage the coronavirus is causing,” Breed said in a press release.

“Under Breed’s order, tenants struggling to meet their monetary lease obligations because of ‘a COVID-19 related impact’ must notify their landlords and substantiate their inability to pay rent with documentation. After the emergency declaration is lifted, tenants will have up to six months to catch up on any back-due rent,” Forbes reported.

There are similar bans on evictions approved by city lawmakers in San Jose, California; Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Miami-Dade County in Florida; Montgomery County in Virginia; and Travis County in Texas.