‘A modicum of dignity’: Tampa City Council, in reversal, unanimously approves Tenant’s Bill of rights
Jacksonville renters and landlords are equally struggling. Image via AP.

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The measure was supported in a 6-1 vote, then shot down in a 4-2 vote on second reading, before being revived.

The Tampa City Council Thursday ended its months-long game of Pong with a proposed Tenant’s Bill of Rights in a unanimous vote.

The proposed measure was supported in a 6-1 vote in January but was shot down in a 4-2 vote on second reading. Council member Luis Viera had left the dais because he thought it would pass easily. Viera made good on a promise to bring the measure back.

“Given our housing crisis that we obviously have with rental prices going up about a quarter over the last year, this, to me, is just a modicum of dignity when it comes to this issue,” Viera said. “So I look forward to passing this and I thank everybody for their hard work.”

The new ordinance adds a mandate that landlords provide tenants with a “Notice of Rights” related to housing. It would also mandate landlords accept Section 8 vouchers and other government assistance as part of a prospective tenant’s income.

The ordinance mirrors one already passed into law for unincorporated areas of Hillsborough County. And as affordable housing inventory remains low and rental prices in Tampa rise at among the highest rates in the country, housing advocates are concerned Tampa is leaving its residents with little protection. Council Chair Orlando Gudes even described Tampa’s housing situation as an “emergency crisis.”

Last week, the city announced a new rental and move-in assistance program. But the next day, officials announced the program was already out of money and applications were being closed.

Viera said this is one important way to address housing issues in the city. Hillsborough, he noted, has had its ordinance in effect since March.

“We haven’t seen the sky fall in the county,” Viera said. “To the contrary, what we’ve seen is tenants in a lot of apartments and different places know their rights on habitability, know their rights on discrimination issues like the 1968 Fair Housing law. We’ve seen people empowered.”

City staff said the ordinance won’t be enforced until June 1, giving time to educate landlords and tenants about the changes.

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected].


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