Homeowners and lenders in Broward County who may be facing an eviction case can now find a solution with the county’s new mediation program.
“For people who have been genuinely affected by the crisis, to them this is a lifeline,” said Steve Geller, Mayor of Broward County.
Broward County Chief Judge, Jack Tuter , created the Foreclosure Mediation Program to help homeowners and lenders find a solution that works for both parties.
“People that have been unable to pay their rent because of COVID and that are threatened with eviction, the landlord in order to evict them, needs to file a lawsuit,” said Geller.
Geller says all COVID-19-related eviction cases will be under mandatory mediation. He says the goal is to keep tenants in their homes and for landlords to receive payments from the county.
“Let’s say you have a tenant that’s eight months in arrears, the county is willing to pay 75% of the overdue rent for the last 3-4 months and 60% of the overdue rent for the remainder of the arrearages,” said Geller.
But if landlords disagree…
“He can proceed with the eviction. But if evicts a tenant that’s eight months in arrears, his changes in actually getting aid are pretty low. In most cases, it will be better to take a burden at hand instead of two in the bush and take the county’s money,” said Geller.
In October, the state moratorium expired after the federal centers for disease control and prevention imposed its own nationwide moratorium, to help renters who were affected by the pandemic ,which was set to expire Sunday.
The CDC then extended the current order under until March 31st.
“We cannot continue an eviction freeze forever. It’s not fair to the landlords. Many of the landlords that own the homes, their mortgage payments haven’t been frozen. Their obligation to maintain the house or pay property taxes haven’t been frozen. It’s not fair to them to continue an eviction freeze forever. On the other hand, we realize other people have really been hurt,” said Geller.
Geller says they're still finalizing a few details like how the renter can prove they’ve been affected financially by the pandemic and how long of an extension a landlord needs to give to a tenant.
The program is scheduled to launch February 16th, you can find more information about the program here.