Facing eviction? Miami experts share tips to assert your tenants’ rights and fight it

Many local residents are struggling to pay rent on time, and many others are facing eviction from their homes.

Here are tips for tenants who face displacement:

Know your rights as a tenant

Zaina Alsous, managing director of Miami Workers Center, said it is important for tenants to know their rights when dealing with landlords. If you’re facing eviction and have questions, you can email the workers center for help at info@miamiworkerscenter.org or call the agency at (305) 759-8717.

“There are quite a few illegal evictions that happen in Miami-Dade County,” Alsous said. “If a landlord forces you out without following the process of notice, like changing the locks on you without going through with filings in court, you can sometimes challenge the validity of eviction and get it dismissed.”

Seek legal support

Only 2% of tenants in eviction court come with legal representation, while 90% of landlords have it, Alsous said.

For tenants seeking legal services, Legal Services of Greater Miami could be an option. The group can be reached online here or by phone at (305) 576-0080. Through the organization, low-income residents can get free legal assistance.

Apply for Miami-Dade County’s rental assistance program

People behind on rent can apply online here to see if they qualify for financial help.

“The County’s Rental Assistance Program still has money available and now a separate program that is just for people experiencing an increase in the rent, whether or not it’s resulting in an eviction, or related to COVID. That’s $13 million,” Alsous said.

In her experience working with tenants participating in the program, it only is effective if tenants’ landlords also agree to participate.

Don’t vacate your home until you receive a writ of possession

Tenants should be aware they do not have to move out upon receiving a first eviction notice.

“You don’t have to move out until officially law enforcement comes to enforce a writ of possession,” Alsous said. “Law enforcement gives you a 24-hour notice. You have 24 hours to vacate. That’s when you’ll see those horrible scenes of people’s stuff being thrown out on the sidewalk. That’s the final, traumatizing chapter.”

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