As rent costs rise dramatically in Florida, dozens of cities and counties have been passing ordinances — often called tenant “bill of rights” — to give some protections to renters. But the Legislature is now looking to eliminate those ordinances.
In fact, the Florida House is one vote away from repealing all of those ordinances, from Miami, Miami-Dade and Tampa to Orange County and dozens more municipalities and counties. The Senate version is also pursuing the legislation.
The measure (HB 1417 ) would take away local control of the regulation of residential rentals and preempt that power to the state — meaning that the ordinances would go away.
The bill also sets the notice period for terminating month-to-month tenancy from 15 days’ notice to 30 days’ notice. And for tenants with a specific duration, the rental agreement can’t require less than 30 days’ notice or more than 60 days’ notice of termination, instead of more than 60 days’ notice as required in current law.
“This bill protects tenants. This bill protects property owners. And this bill protects capitalism,” said Lee County Republican Tiffany Esposito, the House bill sponsor, who had been discussing the bill on the House floor but had not yet moved to a final vote on the issue.
However, Democrats maintain that the measure was another blow to tenant rights in Florida, as GOP lawmakers already passed legislation earlier in the session in the ‘Live Local Act’ that bans any local government from enacting rent-control measures.
In today’s bill, Democrats proposed 23 different amendments to the measure, many purely symbolic. Tampa Bay area Rep. Michelle Rayner-Goolsby proposed an amendment to retitle the legislation to the “End of Local Freedoms Act,” which she said would simply provide some “transparency” to the measure.
Rayner-Goolsby also proposed a measure that would restore the right for local governments to implement a short-termed rent-control stabilization measure during “states of emergency.” Manatee County Republican Tommy Gregory blasted the idea, saying it was backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and that most economists all agree that rent control has “disparate impacts” on the population.
Saying that she had “lost count’ of the number of her constituents who said that their rent had increased between 20%-40%, Jacksonville Democrat Angie Nixon introduced an amendment that would cap rents at 10%.
That allowed Brevard County Tyler Sirois to blast President Joe Biden, as he asked Nixon if she believed it was the “failed federal policies that have led to inflation” that have contributed to why Floridians are struggling with rent increases.
Nixon responded that she believed it was the “failed policies” that the Legislature have passed in the past year regarding property insurance that have contributed to the rising costs of living in Florida.
Miami-Dade County Democrat Ashley Gantt noted how Miami-Dade voters just passed their own tenant bill-of-rights ordinance last year, and asked Esposito what recourse those voters have to pass such laws in their community.
Esposito said that they could contact their state representative to change Chapter 83 regarding tenants and landlords in state statute.
Gantt responded that she hoped she would get bipartisan support if she proposed such a bill in the next session.
The measure is supported by groups such as the Florida Apartment Association and the Florida Realtors.
The proposal will now go before the entire House for a final vote. Its Senate equivalent (SB 1586) has passed through all of its committees in that chamber and also awaits a final vote in the coming days.
–Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix