Darryl Rouson joins Fentrice Driskell and Dianne Hart in eviction support legislation

A pair of measures would let tenants seal eviction records and require eviction mediation.

A group of Tampa Bay lawmakers have filed a series of bills to support tenants facing eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sen. Darryl Rouson filed SB 412 and SB 926 in an effort to address eviction records and housing insecurity. 

The Residential Tenancies bill, SB 412, would help address housing insecurity by referring matters of eviction to mediation in circuit courts with established mediation programs. It would also remove the requirement for the tenant to deposit money owed during eviction proceedings into the court registry.

“Our state should be utilizing mediation to discuss options for tenants and landlords prior to the eviction proceeding,” Rouson said at a press conference Monday. 

Rep. Fentrice Driskell filed the House’s companion bill HB 481

“What we’re really trying to do here, to put it very plainly, is to help level the playing field and make sure that we can slow it down a bit so that we can hear the facts,” Driskell said.

The related bill, Eviction Records (SB 926), would allow for defendants to move to seal their eviction record if the court finds they were adversely affected by COVID-19. The bill would apply to eviction complaints filed after March 1, 2020. 

The goal: to prevent future landlords from refusing to rent to tenants adversely impacted by COVID-19. 

“Nothing is more sacred than adequate shelter, safe and secure housing, particularly during a health crisis,” Rouson said. “We allow records to be expunged and sealed for criminal offenses. Why not for the unfortunate situation of an eviction so that people can truly get a clean, start.” 

Rep. Dianne Hart filed the companion bill for eviction records, HB 657. 

“Even with a moratorium in place many people were not spared from the process of losing their homes,” Hart said. “Even though these circumstances were not within anyone’s control, once you have an eviction on your record, it is exceedingly difficult to find another landlord willing to give you an opportunity to rent.”

During Monday’s press conference, Rouson emphasized that nearly 180 families a day are being evicted from their homes in Florida. 

“This is not a partisan issue. The landlord does not ask your party affiliation when he begins an eviction process,” Rouson said. “No one likes going through an eviction process, why not have mediation, to discuss options between landlords and tenants when people are unable to pay and afford the rent.”

Eviction-related bills spurred by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have been coming in hot to the Florida Legislature. 

In early January, Sen. Shevrin Jones filed a bill, SB 576, which would prohibit landlords from refusing to enter into a rental agreement with a prospective tenant solely based on an eviction that occurred during the pandemic.

Back in December, the passage of the $900 billion federal relief package allocated about $1.4 billion in rental relief assistance to Florida.

But, without protection from the state, which let its eviction moratorium expire in September, more tenants may face evictions come March 31 — a deadline extended by the CDC.

A National Low Income Housing Coalition report found that Florida has the second highest eviction risk rate across the country. The report found that 15.6% of Florida renters were at risk of eviction in the two months following December, compared to a national risk of eviction rate of 8.4%.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


  • Sonja Fitch

    February 1, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    You know what would also be really helpful? If Florida US Congress members support the American Recovery Act! But Nazi Rick and sheriff Rutherford and little Marco and duiGaetz are so far up Trump’s butt, it is impossible for any of em to do their duty and serve and protect Floridians and Americans!

  • Anthony

    February 1, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    There are two sides to every story: Let’s look at the landlords situation. You have a tenant that has NOT been affected by COVID-19, but claiming they have. Since August, Governor DeSantis has lifted ALL moratoriums and restrictions on businesses. That means EVERYONE can go to work. There is no reason for anyone to claim they are being affected now. “Honest” tenants, with “Honest” landlords will work it out. Dishonest tenants are the ones that are abusing the CDC Moratorium, even though they are not affected. The government bailouts were misguided. Instead of sending money to tenants to pay rent, it should have gone to the landlord. Tenants used “Rent” subsidies to buy non-essential toys, and are now crying they are being kicked out. This is not a decision that should be made by a Blanket Coverage such as the CDC. Florida is 100% open. There should be no more assistance to people that are just abusing the system to get another FREE RIDE from the government. The local judges should be making these decisions on a case by case basis.

  • Sonja Fitch

    February 2, 2021 at 6:59 am

    Anthony good point! But once again the American Recovery Act shall include payments to these landlords! Now I ain’t going hyper critical on folks spending during the pandemic. A mother near me bought toys for her kids with some money. Wasn’t enough for food! But she split it equally in the Dollar Store food and birthday toys ! sheriff Rutherford, duiGaetz , and Nazi Rick are not conservatives they are goptrump death cult sociopaths! They are not capable of protecting and serving all Floridians and Americans!


    February 2, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    What happens when the landlord can’t make the mortgage payment, because no rental income? Are the mortgage companies not going to foreclosure? Of course they will!
    Then the landlord loses the property, and the tenant is evicted anyway. The only injured party is the landlord.

Comments are closed.


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