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Attempting to reverse the tide, a South FL House Democrat files bill to protect tenant rights

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Attempting to reverse the tide, a South FL House Democrat files bill to protect tenant rights

Sep 13, 2023 | 2:36 pm ET
By Mitch Perry
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Attempting to reverse the tide, a South FL House Democrat files bill to protect tenant rights
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Gov. Ron DeSantis has withdrawn relief from renters and mortgage payers, citing federal protections.

The 2023 legislative session was a brutal one for tenant rights in Florida, with state lawmakers passing bills preempting local tenant protection ordinances and eliminating local governments from enacting rent control laws.

Now a South Florida House Democrat is trying to bring back some rights to renters.

West Palm Beach state Rep. Jervonte Edmonds has filed legislation for the 2024 session that would limit rent increases, require landlords to provide functioning air condition, and revise the notice requirements for terminating a rental agreement.

“This bill is about protecting tenants from predatory landlords,” Edmonds said in a written statement. “Too many people in Florida are struggling to afford rent, and this bill would give them some much-needed relief.”

The bill faces tough odds in a chamber where Democrats are in a super minority in both the House and Senate, with little ability to pass legislation without getting Republcan support.

Edmonds legislation would limit the maximum that a landlord could increase the rent for a dwelling unit to 30 percent in a 12-month period.

William Kilgore, an organizer with the St. Petersburg Tenants Union, said the proposal was “barely restrictive” when it came to how much a landlord can charge for rent per year.

“It looks like it’s designed to curb exorbitant increases like we’ve seen, but up to 30% still gives landlords a lot of leeway,” he told the Phoenix in a text message.

However, Kilgore applauded the proposal to require landlords to provide tenants with air conditioning, which is not the law currently, as Floridians have endured record hot temperatures this summer.

South Florida Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo filed legislation in the 2022 session to require certain landlords to provide functioning air-conditioning, but that bill never made it out of committee.

Legislation passed in the 2023 session not only eliminated the ability of local governments to enact any type of rent stabilization efforts, it also wiped away the dozens of local “tenant bill of rights” ordinances that local governments had passed around the state.