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Landlords continue to kick tenants out despite Gov. DeSantis' order to suspend evictions

More than 120 evictions filed in Tampa Bay
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Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 19:09:03-04

The governor suspended all residential evictions across Florida after the financial fallout from the pandemic, but that order hasn’t stopped some landlords from threatening to kick families out of their homes, the I-Team uncovered.

I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway searched court records and found more than 120 eviction filings in just the first two weeks of April in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended all residential evictions on April 2.

But Eddie Deya says his landlord taped a notice to his front door on April 8, demanding he pay his $1,305 rent within three days or move out.

The Deya family, which includes three teenage children, is struggling to pay for groceries and the electric bill after Deya's fiancée, Jasmine Soley, was furloughed last month.

“My biggest fear is not having a place to sleep for my kids,” said Vega. “We have our kids to worry about. It’s either feed our kids or pay the rent.”

The I-Team spoke to tenant law experts about their case.

Bay Area Legal Services' Martin Lawyer said his organization plans to help Deya fight the eviction threat.

“You can’t send notices for eviction,” said Lawyer. “That’s my comment for landlords throughout the state of Florida.”

I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway also contacted the Deya's landlord, Momentum Property Management. The company's attorney did not directly address the notice but in an email, said, “My client has not filed a single eviction action since the governor’s order was signed."

But the I-Team found other landlords are currently filing eviction notices with the courts.

While some landlords continue to file evictions, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has pledged to stop serving eviction notices while stay-at-home orders are in place.

Low-income renters who find themselves facing eviction can contact Bay Area Legal Services at www.BALS.org