Hillsborough County Approves Tenant Bill of Rights
The Tenant Bill of Rights
In a 5-1 vote, the Hillsborough County Commission voted to approve Ordinance 21-7, commonly referred to as a tenant bill of rights, during their regular meeting on March 3rd. Designed to advance affordable housing efforts and provide protections to renters, the ordinance requires the following be met under penalty of law:
- Landlords must provide a notice to renters informing them of their rights under existing law, a list of available resources for tenant assistance, and a disclosure of assessable late fees.
- Landlords may not discriminate based on source of income, including Section 8 housing vouchers.
While the board expressed nearly unanimous support for the ordinance, the community did not display a comparable level of like-mindedness. During the public comment period held shortly before the final vote, dozens of speakers engaged in a spirited back-and-forth about the merits of the ordinance, including the Bay Area Apartment Association's Government Affairs Director, Eric Garduño. Eric alongside others in the multifamily housing industry raised concerns with the undue burden being placed on property management companies, particularly the source of income requirement. Though this provision proved too controversial for a similar measure in St. Petersburg, many within the community felt it was a necessary step in curbing discriminatory screening practices.
Setting the Stage
The enactment of public policy is often followed by a reverberation effect - in other words, the passage of this ordinance in Hillsborough County may inspire other municipalities to consider similar measures. At this time, the Florida Apartment Association is not tracking any comparable legislation; however, the adoption of source of income protections is not an unprecedented event. Both Alachua and Miami-Dade County have existing language that prohibits source of income from being considered during the tenant screening process. Undoubtedly, this latest foray into crafting a tenant bill of rights serves to embolden interest groups seeking to spread this measure across the state. We must continue to be vigilant and monitor the development of similar policies. If you are aware of legislation related to source of income protections, or have questions related to this matter, please contact the Florida Apartment Association's Government Affairs team.
FAA Source of Income Brief: Source of Income - Google Docs