This week marked the end of the seventh week of legislative session, there are only 14 days until the end of the 60-day legislative session. Many bills that could potentially affect the apartment industry are on the move! Here is an update of what happened in Tallahassee this week.
Military Affairs: SB 1588, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, and its House companion HB 1235, sponsored by Rep. Chris Latvala, appeared on the FAA radar after each sponsor submitted amendments on their respective bills to expedite rental applications for military service members, their spouses, and adult dependents residing in the same unit (if required on rental application). HB 1235 was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, April 18. Testimony from Courtney Barnard, FAA government affairs director can be viewed here. The bill passed the committee vote and FAA is working with both bill sponsors to amend or remove language affecting the apartment industry.
How this affects you: Apartment owners and managers could face increased costs due to expediting service member spousal rental applications and background checks. The current bill states that “Absent a timely denial of the rental application, the landlord must lease the rental unit to the service member if all other terms of the application and lease are complied with.” FAA is communicating with the bill sponsors to ensure apartment owners and managers are not unfairly penalized with extra fees by this legislation and that apartment owners will not be forced to lease a unit to an unqualified applicant.
Certified Law Enforcement Officers: A bill that could give law enforcement officers the right of early lease termination has been postponed. HB 545, a bill titled ‘‘Relating to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’’ and sponsored by Rep. Bobby Payne, was temporarily pulled from the schedule of its final committee stop before a House vote. The bill, which until previously had no industry impact, was amended last week to include provisions that would allow state-certified law enforcement officers to terminate their lease with 10 days’ notice due to job transfer, harassment, vandalism of property, or at the officer’s discretion of his or her best interest. The bill does not include a description of who is a certified law enforcement officer (state definitions include a wide range from police officers to state attorneys). The bill also would allow the officer to not be liable for any termination or damage fees.
Last week, FAA held an emergency Government Affairs Council meeting and was able to file an amendment within deadline to strike the language. The bill was pulled from the schedule for reasons not related to FAA’s amendment.
Property Tax Assessments: The Senate adopted HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton to replace SB 76, sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee. SB 76 bill has been “laid on the table’’ and HB 21 is awaiting its final vote in both chambers. The bill will be voted on for final passage on Wednesday, April 26. This bill is one of the 2017 priorities decided by FAA members and presented to legislators at the annual Legislative Conference.
How this affects you: HB 21 and SB 76 will create a joint resolution to place the 10% non-homestead assessment cap language back on the ballot for voters in 2018. Apartment communities are considered non-homesteaded properties and benefit from a cap on how much taxable assessments can be raised each year. If the cap is not reauthorized, then yearly assessments can increase by any amount for non-homestead property. This could mean apartment owners would see a jump in their property taxes in 2019. Drastic property tax increases could also result in a loss of apartment industry jobs.
Housing Discrimination: FAA priority bills including SB 268, sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson, and its companion SB 742, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, and HB 659, sponsored by Rep. Holly Raschein, have not been heard in any committees. FAA opposes all changes to administrative remedies regarding housing.
How this affects you: SB 268, SB 742, and HB 659 would allow a person who alleges housing discrimination to file a civil action for two years after an alleged incident before a complaint has been filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations or a local housing discrimination agency. This legislation would greatly increase the incidence of unvetted civil suits against apartment communities in Florida.
What is happening next week: The House and Senate will holding final committee meetings throughout the week; generally committees do not meet after the 50th day of session unless requested by the Senate or House Rules chair.
FAA will continue to monitor and advocate for our industry throughout the legislative session; if you have any questions or concerns, please email me at Courtney@faahq.org. For an in-depth mid-session update from FAA government affairs director, Courtney Barnard and FAA lobbyist, Kelly Mallette, please join us on the upcoming end-of-legislative update call on Friday, May 12, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Call-in information is:
Pass Code: 7647753