2016 Session Update: Weeks 1-3

Posted By: Courtney Barnard Advocacy News ,

The Florida legislative session is in full swing. This past week marked the end of the third week of session, as well as the FAA annual Legislative Conference. The legislative conference was a huge success; more than 150 apartment owners and managers attended the event from across Florida. Additionally, FAA held meetings with over 160 legislator offices. Many bills affecting our industry are on the move! Here is an update of what happened in Tallahassee this week.

Expanding the Allowable Repairs by Maintenance Professionals: Both the House and Senate versions of the FAA maintenance bills are gaining momentum. HB 535, sponsored by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral), passed its second committee.  Kay Edwards from CCAA testified on behalf of FAA about the bill before the House Committee. Ms. Edward's testimony was informative and eloquent. You can watch her testimony and the full recap of the bill in committee here.

SB 704, sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) was heard in its first committee stop. The bill was briefly halted when Sen. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington) put forward an amendment to remove the apartment maintenance section from the bill.  Sen. Abruzzo withdrew his amendment; however, the FAA maintenance amendment is not safe from being stricken from the bill in future committees. Please email me atcourtney@faahq.org to find out how you can keep the maintenance exemption in the bill.

How this affects you: SB 704/HB 535 allow Certified Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT)to perform HVAC, water heater, and AC repairs below a specific cost (less than $1,000 in the Senate bill, less than $500 in the House bill) . Currently, maintenance workers are not legally allowed to perform any work in AC or HVAC units, so this exemption would reduce costs for apartment communities by enabling them to use on-site employees rather than outsourcing to contractors.

Servicemember Rental Applications:  HB 1073 sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Palatka) passed its first House committee. The original filed bill would require landlords to waive all background checks and rental application fees for active duty military members. Additionally, apartment owners would be required to process the rental application of an active duty military member within seven days. After we contacted Rep. Van Zant and discussed the concerns of the apartment industry, the representative put forward an amended bill which only requires an apartment owner to process an application within the seven-day window.  The senate companion SB 1656, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers (R-Milton) had not be heard in any committees.

How this affects you: SB 1656/HB 1073 would mandate that all rental housing providers process rental applications for active duty military members within seven days. This bill only applies to active duty military members, and would not apply to veterans.

FAA will continue to monitor and advocate for our industry throughout the legislative session; if you have any questions or concerns, please email me Courtney@faahq.org. 

Please stay tuned for updates next week.