Linda Stewart, Robin Bartleman push bill to safeguard apartment dwellers

Linda Stewart
'Miya's Law' would require background checks on apartment workers, master key controls.

Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart and Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman are pushing legislation they hope would make apartment dwellers safer from predatory or violent apartment building employees with master keys.

Stewart and Bartleman expects Stewart’s Senate Bill 898 could help prevent tragedies like the apparent murder of an Orlando woman in September. They’re calling it “Miya’s Law.”

Miya Marcano, 19, was reportedly killed in her University of Central Florida area apartment. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office suspects a maintenance worker with a violent criminal background, who was employed by the apartment complex, had been stalking her, and used a master key to enter her apartment and murder her. The maintenance worker committed suicide before an arrest was made.

“Miya’s Law” would require apartment owners to conduct extensive criminal background checks on employees, and to set up rigorous controls over master keys to apartments.

Marcano’s apartment is in Stewart’s Senate District 13. Her family is from Pembroke Pines, in Bartleman’s House District 104.

“Miya’s death is an awful tragedy — one that has put a spotlight on problems with apartment safety and security,” Stewart said in a news release. “We’ve heard too many horror stories of some landlords disregarding the security of their tenants by issuing master keys to maintenance workers without running any background checks. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes and we are hopeful that ‘Miya’s Law’ will help make that a reality.”

The bill would allow a landlord to disqualify individuals with certain criminal records from employment. It also would set requirements regarding access to individual units, increasing the required tenants’ notice to 24 hours.

“As the parent of a daughter in a rental apartment at the University of Florida, it is my expectation that she is safe and will come home,” Bartleman said in a news release. “Those were Miya’s parents’ expectations, and their lives are forever changed. This horrible tragedy helped shed light on gaping security holes that exist, and we must ensure the safety of all Floridians in multi-family rentals. Everyone has the right to expect safety in their own home. This bill and the work through the foundation will ensure the safety of not only our children but millions of families who rent in our state.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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