CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that tenants have three days to respond after their landlord’s initial notice to vacate, or they could be evicted by default. Per Florida statute 83.2, a tenant has three days to get current on rent after receiving written notice of that past-due rent from their landlord. After that, if the rent has not been paid, the landlord can move forward with an official eviction filing in court, and it’s that court notice to which the tenant has five days to respond or risk being evicted by default. The article was amended June 24, 2021 to clarify the deadlines.
Are you struggling with a housing issue in Central Florida? Spectrum News has compiled this breakdown of resources for Central Floridians in need of housing assistance, with a particular focus on help for people impacted by COVID-19.
Our reporters will continue to update this list regularly.
Rental assistance application events
HOUSD and Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida are providing in-person assistance sessions for people applying for emergency rental assistance. To qualify for help, you must rent your home, earn no more than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), be at risk of facing housing instability and have experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19.
Click to preregister for events.
Dates and locations for assistance sessions are below. Masks are required for indoor events:
- Orange County events
Friday, September 24
noon to 2 p.m.
Grace Medical Center
1417 E. Concord Street
Orlando, Fla. 32803
- Saturday, September 25
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Habitat for Humanity
4116 Silver Star Road
Orlando, Fla. 32808
- Volusia County events
Wednesday, September 22
3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida: Daytona Office
1440 N. Nova Rd. Suite 101
Daytona Beach, Fla. 32117
- Wednesday, September 29
3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
City of Deltona
City Commission Chambers
2345 Providence Blvd.
Deltona, Fla. 32725
For renters immediately facing an eviction
Have you received an official court notice from your area courthouse? Eviction proceedings in the state of Florida begin with a three-day notice to vacate, which your landlord must provide to you in writing. That's not the court notice. Initial eviction summonses give the tenant three days to respond to the landlord.
In the state of Florida, you must act quickly: for nonpayment of rent evictions, if you can’t pay the full amount your landlord alleges that you owe within three days, your landlord can move forward and file an eviction with the court. You’ll then receive an official court summons, which you must respond to within five days, or you’ll lose your case by default.
In the state of Florida, for your eviction case to be heard by a judge, you must pay the full owed amount into the court registry within five days – or, if you believe the owed amount is wrong, you can file a motion to determine rent. See more detailed information from the Florida Bar.
Eviction cases are often complex, and you may want legal advice. Visit your local legal aid society for free resources and to request low-cost or pro-bono legal counsel, if needed. Jacksonville Area Legal Aid has created a user-friendly “Eviction Answer Builder” that can help you craft a response to the court and guide you to other beneficial resources.
Community legal groups in Central Florida with housing law resources
Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, with offices serving Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia
Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., serving 13 south central counties, including Polk
Heart of Florida Legal Aid Society, serving Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties
If you still can’t find help, you can try using this search tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to find a housing counselor near you: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor/
For those in need of shelter/homelessness resources
The Heart of Florida United Way has an expansive community resource directory where you can search for a wide range of services – including homeless shelters and housing assistance – based on your location, age, and gender.
United Way also operates 211, a free and confidential phone line that connects callers to resources 24/7.
Covenant House Florida (Orlando) provides youth (ages 18-24) with food, showers and emergency and transitional shelter programs.
Hope Partnership (formerly known as Community Hope Center) in Osceola County provides several levels of housing assistance, advocacy and support for low-income or homeless people in need.
Orlando Union Rescue Mission (O.U.R. Mission) provides emergency and transitional shelter for people experiencing homelessness, as well as three hot meals a day for guests and anyone else in need.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida coordinates emergency food deliveries to low-income people throughout Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties.
The Sharing Center in Longwood provides people experiencing homelessness with food, showers, clothing and other basic essentials. At their Oasis drop-in center, people can also take advantage of showers and laundry service.
The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida has a residential shelter program. It also provides free community dinners for those in need, as well as shower/laundry facilities and mail service for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
The Rescue Outreach Mission provides emergency food and shelter.
The Salvation Army Orlando provides daily meals to those in need at its downtown Orlando location, and also has bed capacity for people experiencing homelessness in their two separate shelter spaces, for men and women/children.
Zebra Coalition is a service provider for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 13-24) that offers mental health support and housing assistance, including two different housing placement programs for at-risk youth.
For tenants behind on rent and/or at risk of being evicted
Emergency rental assistance is available for people at risk of losing their housing due to financial impact from COVID-19. These federal funds, also known as ERA funds, are distributed to states and some eligible local governments, including many Florida cities and counties. Where you apply depends on where you live.
You may want to start with Our Florida, the statewide rent/utility assistance program administered through Florida’s Department of Children and Families. https://www.ourflorida.com/ Eligible Florida renters can qualify for up to 15 months of rent and utility payments, including 12 months of past due rent and three months of future rent. Fill out Our Florida’s brief questionnaire to see if your household qualifies: https://www.ourflorida.com/#questionnaire
You may also be able to apply for rent/utility assistance if you live in any of the following Central Florida cities/counties (click the link to be taken to each local program):
Brevard County: http://www.brevardfl.gov/HumanServices
Lake County: https://lakecountyfl.submittable.com/submit
Marion County: https://www.uwmc.org/CAP
Seminole County: https://seminoleerap.seminolecountyfl.gov/program-overview/
If you’re from a lower-income household and need help paying for utilities, you may be eligible for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), which is paid directly to your utility company. Learn more general information about LIHEAP on the Florida Jobs website. Below are direct links to some local LIHEAP offices:
Brevard County: https://www.brevardfl.gov/HumanServices/CommunityActionAgency
Flagler County: http://www.nfcaa.org/utility-assistance/
Lake County: http://www.lakecaa.org/Community_Svcs_LIHEAP.asp
Marion County: https://www.cfcaa.org/liheap/
Sumter County: https://www.mfcs.us.com/Energy-Assistance-10-46.html
Landlords are among the small businesses eligible to apply for a low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), a program of the Small Business Administration (SBA). That disaster loan program isn’t new, but was expanded last year due to the pandemic. Until December 31, landlords can apply for a loan of up to $2 million with a fixed 3.75% interest rate, depending on your level of financial need.
Learn more and apply on the SBA website.
Landlords may also apply for emergency rental assistance on behalf of their tenants who are behind on rent. Scroll up to our section on emergency rental assistance for links to state and local ERA programs.
If you’re struggling financially due to COVID-19 and have a federally-backed mortgage, you may apply for mortgage forbearance: a pause or reduction in your mortgage payments, usually with no additional penalty. Initial forbearance plans typically last 3-6 months, but you can request an extension, sometimes for up to 18 months.
If your loan is backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Veterans Affairs (VA), you may apply for forbearance until June 30. If your loan is backed by either Frannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is currently no deadline to request forbearance.
You can learn more about how to apply for mortgage forbearance from the CFPB on its website.
Have something to add?
If you’re a housing provider with information to contribute to this resource page, you may reach our housing reporter Molly Duerig with that information at email@example.com. If you’re a tenant, landlord or homeowner with an experience or tip you’d like to share, please contact us as well.
Molly Duerig is a Report for America corps member who is covering Affordable Housing for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.