South Florida lawmakers propose cap on rent increases, AC requirements
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‘We have to look at housing as a human right, and putting some stipulations in place is reasonable.’

Democratic lawmakers from South Florida are again seeking stronger protections for apartment tenants, including limiting how much rents can rise yearly and requiring landlords to provide air conditioning.

They face an uphill battle, based on recent actions — and inaction — by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

This month, Sen. Rosalind Osgood of central Broward County and West Palm Beach Rep. Jervonte Edmonds filed twin bills (SB 64, HB 31) that would restrict landlords from raising rents more than once yearly. Rent increases would not be allowed to exceed 30% of the existing rate.

“We have to look at housing as a human right, and putting some stipulations in place is reasonable,” Osgood told Florida Politics. “As legislators, we need to find a happy medium, because if property owners continue to raise prices of rent and people can’t afford it, it’s going to create more homelessness.”

The limits the bills propose would not apply to single-family homes, duplexes or in cases where no tenant from when the landlord established the initial rent remains in lawful possession of the unit. Rent may be increased by more than 30%, however, if the landlord’s expenses due to repairs, fees, insurance adjustments or property taxes exceed 30% of the current rent.

Tenants would be able to delay their eviction by 15 days if they pay an unspecified portion of their past-due rent. After that grace period, the landlord could terminate the rental agreement or bring a cause of action for possession of the unit.

Landlords today can begin evictions after a three-day notice when rent is three days late.

The bills, which Edmonds filed Sept. 6 and Osgood filed Friday, also add air conditioning units to the list of things a landlord must provide to tenants. No such obligation currently exists in state statutes. But there is a requirement that landlords provide renters with heat during winter.

Senate Democratic Leader-designate Jason Pizzo and former Miami Beach Rep. Mike Grieco filed legislation in December 2021 to mandate that landlords provide air conditioning. The measures died without a single hearing.

Rents rose in the Sunshine State before the pandemic, but they’ve soared since. A Florida TaxWatch study found rental prices shot up by 36% between January 2020 and December 2022. In 2021 alone, the average rate statewide grew 29% from $1,266 to $1,635 monthly. In Miami-Dade, the county with the highest cost of living, the average rent swelled from about $1,700 in March 2020 to more than $2,400 in July 2023 — a 41% increase.

Florida law does not impose limits on how much a landlord can increase rent or the frequency at which they can do so. Through last year, the state also mostly prohibited local governments from imposing price controls on lawful businesses that are not under government contract. That included mandated rent controls.

Numerous Democratic attempts to nix or circumvent the ban have failed. In 2022, Kissimmee Sen. Vic Torres and Orlando Rep. Anna Eskamani filed twin bills (SB 580, HB 6017) to delete the prohibitive statute. Miami Gardens Sen. Shevrin Jones and former Rep. Travaris McCurdy of Orlando carried related measures (SB 1620, HB 1587) that would have created additional protections for tenants from rent increases and evictions. During the 2023 Session, Jones and Miami Rep. Ashley Gantt also filed bills (SB 1698, HB 1261) to bar landlords of senior communities from raising rents beyond 12% in a five-year period. All the bills died unheard.

That’s not to say the Legislature hasn’t passed some revisions to state rent rules. Republicans pushed through one measure (HB 1417), sponsored Sens. Jay Trumbull and Reps. Tiffany Esposito and Lawrence McClure, extending the state government’s preemption on local oversight of tenant screenings, security deposits and rental agreement fees, among other things.

The bill affected approximately 1.5 million households in Florida’s seven largest counties — more than half the total number of renting households statewide, according to the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida.

During a floor debate of the bill, which the Florida Apartment Association lobbied for, Esposito said, “Capitalism and the free market will solve our housing crisis if we get the government out of the way.”

The Legislature last year also eliminated the one remaining exception to the state’s proscription on local rent ordinance, which cities and counties were allowed to impose when “necessary and proper” to eliminate a “housing emergency.”

That carve-out disappeared in February through the Live Local Act, a package sponsored by Sen. Alexis Calatayud and Reps. Demi Busatta Cabrera and Vicki Lopez that gave real estate developers broad incentives to build more affordable housing units.

The measure, which lawmakers of both parties supported and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March, included a ban on rent controls that effectively gutted several local tenant bills of rights, including those in Orange, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Osgood called the Live Local Act “a good bill” for its focus on adding to the state’s affordable housing inventory. But with apartment rates rapidly rising still, she said it is incumbent on lawmakers to provide reasonable protections to renters.

“In Broward, in a lot of the poorest areas, one-bedroom apartments have gone from $800 a month to $1,200 a month. That’s a huge increase,” she said. “We bailed out insurance companies. What about the people who need housing?”

Florida Politics contacted Edmonds for comment but received none by press time.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


4 comments

  • Earl Pitts "America's-Go-To-Economist" American

    September 29, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    Good afternoon Patriots,
    Stand By For Your Afternoon Dose Of Reality From Earl:
    Government interference in the free market (other than the occasional sales tax holiday under the oversight of conservative lawmakers) is how all the Dook 4 Brains ran leftist states have ruined their economies and sent all their Dook 4 Brains rats scurrying to Florida to enjoy The Free State of Florida.
    Sorry Dook 4 Brains Legislators but the answer to government rent control in Florida is a resounding _ELL TO THE NO.
    Thank you American Patriot belivers in The Free Market.
    Your Economic Expert Earl Pitts American

  • Jimmy Diamond

    September 29, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    Well now that just makes sense Sir,
    Our investment business is on shakey legs due to all that political ESG stuff. I’ve got to make some emergency portfolio changes. I can smell what your laying down and I really need an undisputable Econ expert who is tough and wont mind taking the heat off me from my liberal friends.
    Please come on as an advisor, name your salary, I’m emailing my cell#.
    You can work from home. We must get back to making money. ASAP
    Call me,
    Jimmy D

  • Joe

    September 29, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    As long as they cap the rising insurance rates and property taxes simultaneously.

  • Rick Whitaker

    September 30, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    maga gripes about the homeless and then they help cause it. that”t par for maga, they create problems and then blame them on the victims. desantis is almost as bad at that as trump was.

Comments are closed.


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