TAMPA, Fla. - Monday marks the day some residents who are facing eviction could have been getting a knock on their door from law enforcement but many can exhale and stay in their homes a little longer thanks to the governor's extension of the state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hillsborough County Judge Michael Baggé Hernandez had up to 10 eviction filings a day, but not anymore.
"There has been a lot of change in the court. In fact, our eviction docket has gone way down to almost nothing," said Judge Bagge-Hernandez.
Currently, the Hillsborough County Clerks Office says more than 180 filings have been set aside.
On Friday, the governor extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, which changed Judge Bagge-Hernandez's workload just a bit.
“My plan was to start looking at them today and make decisions on them,” he said Monday.
The governor’s reprieve gives people facing tough realities a little bit of breathing room before the sheriff's office comes knocking. However, the executive order states the moratorium on evictions only applies to issues related to non-payment and it does not relieve homeowners or renters from paying, at some point.
Although Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister wasn’t planning on kicking people out of their homes -- at least not right away -- he said, “I cannot, in good faith, evict families from their homes because they can’t work to pay their mortgage during this national time of crisis."
But that will eventually happen.
While some families are clearly struggling financially to pay their rent or mortgage, judge Bagge-Hernandez says it is possible others are taking advantage of the situation.
"It’s hard to tell if people are taking advantage of the process. Obviously, we're hoping that they’re not, but the law's the law. We have to follow the law," he said.
The Governor’s executive order ends on June 2. If he doesn’t extend it further, Judge Bagge-Hernandez will decide which evictions before his court will be enforced.
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