Landlords can collect monthly fees instead of asking for a security deposit under a measure Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Friday.
Sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Mooney, and carried in the Senate by Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie, the measure (HB 133) drew Democratic opposition, but the bill’s promulgators said it offers an option for renters who can’t come up with thousands for a security deposit at the front end.
Deposits usually require renters to put down the equivalent of first and last month’s rent.
“Some folks don’t have $3,000,” DiCeglie told the Senate. “So this is simply an option.”
A similar bill died during last year’s Session but was resurrected once again — to many Democrats’ dismay.
Unlike security deposits, these fees are not refundable or applicable to any damage that occurs during the duration of the rental period. These fees can also be increased.
“Sad to see Gov. Ron DeSantis sign into law what will for sure become a predatory alternative to security deposits,” said Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando. “Instead of pushing for consumer protection for tenants, this will just be another money-making scheme for corporate landlords to exploit.”
The bill signing comes on the same day as a finding from a moving company search engine, MovingFeedback.com, that Floridians’ average rent had the second-largest increase in the country.
Taking data from Zillow, and comparing the average rent paid in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) between January and March 2020 with the average rent paid between January and March 2023 in the same areas, the study found that Florida’s average monthly rent has increased an average of $677, a 46.7% increase in rent prices in three years.
Only Colorado has seen greater rises in rent, according to the MovingFeedback.com study.
Eskamani said she was not reassured by language in the law that says landlords can’t discriminate on applications based on whether the tenant indicates they’d rather pay a deposit than fees.
This law “doesn’t make any improvements to current tenant laws,” she said.