Under a bill filed by Sen. Shevrin Jones, landlords would not be permitted to deny applicants on the basis of a pandemic-related eviction.
The bill, SB 576, 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.
“Many tenants have experienced hardship during the time of COVID-19 … some of them have even been evicted because of it,” Jones said. “I thought it was important that we put some precautionary measures in place to make sure that these people work to get out of the financial burden that they are experiencing right now.”
The bill looks to protect tenants amid the unprecedented job loss spurred by COVID-19. Jones said he hopes it will prevent landlords from using the hardship experienced during the pandemic to hurt those just getting back on their feet.
As far as support from across the aisle, the Democrat is optimistic.
“I think my Republican colleagues, my hope is, that they want to see people get back on their feet,” he said.
The passage of the $900 billion federal relief package extended the nationwide eviction moratorium until the end of January, and also 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 Feb. 1.
A report found that Florida has the second highest eviction risk rate across the country, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The report found that 15.6% of Florida’s renting households are at risk of eviction in the next two months, compared to a national risk of eviction rate of 8.4%.
The bill would take effect upon becoming law.