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April rent still due despite many Floridians losing their jobs during coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 17:26:25-04

GULFPORT, Fla. — While millions of jobs are ending during the coronavirus crisis across the country, rent is still due today for many Floridians.

"It's different," said Preston Pruitt.

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The 25-year old says he's been out of work for about two weeks, losing both his jobs as a serve and bartender. He said since then, he's filed for unemployment, kept up to date on stimulus checks and reached out to his landlord.

"I think it’s very nice of them to help us out and basically give us a little short term job," he said.

His landlord, Carrie Wilbur, is in turn doing what she can to help.

"We have some that are directly affected by coronavirus and so we’re working with them to help them get some income and offset the cost of their rent and put a little extra money in their pocket," she said.

She's paying them hourly to help fix up another property to help with income and understanding their rent payment is delayed.

"It’s scary for a lot of us and we’re concerned of course for our tenants and we have mortgage payments on the properties as well," Wilbur said.

One legal expert we spoke with said if you can pay your rent, you still should. It's technically still due.

"If you happen to be one of those people that are laid off and you’re not getting your paycheck and you can’t pay your rent, what do you do? That’s a tough answer at the moment, but I’ll tell you that it was addressed by the local courts here in Florida," said attorney Daniel Drake.

Florida courts have delayed enforcement of evictions until at least April 17. Some lawmakers are also pressuring the state to put a moratorium on evictions.

"The future is unknown on how the court system and the legislature is going to handle what is going to be a large amount of cases of either non-rent payment or under rent payment," he said.

Drake said if you're out of a job you should immediately file for unemployment and look at financial packages the government is passing.

"Take advantage of whatever comes down the road to try to get some income into your household really to keep the lights on to keep food in your refrigerator," he said.

The CARES Act includes a stimulus check for many Americans and unemployment assistance.

You can find more information on the state's response here.