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Florida lawmakers may replace local rental ordinances with state ones

Rental dwellings are hard to find in much of Florida, especially in big cities
Andy Dean Photography/Andy Dean
Rental dwellings are hard to find in much of Florida, especially in big cities

A bill moving in the Legislature, Senate Bill 1586, would override most aspects of the relationship between Florida landlords and tenants. It would eliminate local ordinances such as the tenant bill of rights in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties.   

And it would replace local requirements for landlord-tenant relationships with state ones. It would re-open all manner of issues: fees and security deposits; the terms and conditions of rental agreements; the screening process used by landlords to approve renters; the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants; and disclosures concerning the premises.

Here’s Senator Jay Trumbull, a Panama City Republican and the bill’s Senate sponsor:

“There is an ordinance in Dade County that says that if a renter decides that they want to do an improvement on their property, they can balance that against their rent -- with no controls, no permits, no things like that,” Trumbull said. “And so what we’re trying to accomplish is preventing those types of things, starting at the state level…”

According to the Miami-Dade Office of Housing Advocacy, the renter can improve the property and deduct it from the rent, but only if certain conditions are met, such as a written, seven-day notice that repairs are needed, the landlord failed to make them, and the tenant has at least 2 estimates, before and after photos, and receipts.

Leon County Commissioner David O’Keefe spoke against Trumbull’s measure.

“Floridians have made it clear to local leaders like me: ‘Won’t you do something to help us afford the rent? We are drowning. Keep our families off the street,’” said O’Keefe. “And localities have answered with solutions, and your bill would take those answers away from us and our neighbors. Why? For what?”    

The bill passed 8-3, and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. Its House counterpart, HB 1417, has passed two committees.

A recent USA-Today Network Florida investigation found Trumbull is one of many lawmakers with ties to the real estate industry. The network was unable to reach him for comment.

Copyright 2023 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Margie Menzel