MIAMI REALTORS®’ Legal and Government Affairs teams hosted a webinar on Monday, June 6, 2022, on the proposed “Tenant’s Bill of Rights and Notice of Late Fees Ordinance” in Broward County. If you missed it, watch in on Miami Realtors Live. The slides are HERE.
On June 14, 2022, the Broward Board of County Commissioners will consider the “Tenant’s Bill of Rights and Notice of Late Fees Ordinance.” A copy of the proposed ordinance is HERE. Below is a breakdown of the proposed ordinance as well as the possible amendments.
WHAT THE ORDINANCE CURRENTLY PROPOSES:
- LANDLORDS WOULD HAVE TO GIVE TENANTS A COPY OF THE TENANT’S BILL OF RIGHTS BEFORE RENTING TO THEM
Broward County would create a “Tenant’s Bill of Rights” form for landlords to use.
New tenants on or after October 1, 2022: If the new ordinance passes, landlords would have to provide prospective tenants with a copy of the Tenant’s Bill of Rights BEFORE accepting a final rental application, a rental application fee, or otherwise entering into a rental agreement with them.
Tenants who were already in a unit by October 1, 2022: If a tenant is in the middle of their lease, or if they do not have a lease, the landlord would have to give the tenant a copy of the “Tenant’s Bill of Rights” prior to October 1, 2022, and then once per year after that.
Landlords would need to get the tenants to sign for the Tenant’s Bill of Rights. There would be a “rebuttable presumption” that the landlord complied with this part of the ordinance if the landlord gets a written, dated, and signed affirmation from the tenant stating that the tenant timely received the Tenant’s Bill of Rights. This means that the tenant would be on the defense to disprove that the landlord did not comply. Landlords would need to keep a copy of the signed Tenant’s Bill of Rights on file for at least one year after the tenant vacates.
How would landlords send the Tenant’s Bill of Rights to the tenants? The proposed ordinance does not state how the Tenant’s Bill of Rights would need to be delivered to the tenants.
- LANDLORDS WOULD NEED TO GIVE ADVANCED WRITTEN NOTICE OF LATE FEES BEFORE CHARGING THEM TO TENANTS
What is the Notice of Late Fees? If the ordinance passes, it would be unlawful for a landlord to assess a late fee to a tenant without first providing written notice to the tenant for EACH late fee assessed.
What if the lease already has a late fee provision? That is not enough – landlords would still have to provide written notice.
What if there is no lease? Would the landlord be able to charge late fees? It is unclear what would happen if the ordinance were to pass. The ordinance is not clear on this issue.
What would need to be included in the written notice? The written notice would need to include:
- A statement that a late fee has been incurred.
- The amount of the late fee. If late fees will increase or continue to accrue, an explanation of the rate at which the late fees will increase or accrue.
- Basis for the late fee, whether it is in the lease or otherwise.
- Reference to any language in the lease that establishes the amount of the late fee.
How does a landlord deliver the Notice of Late Fees to a tenant? The proposed ordinance would require the landlord to send the tenant a Notice of Late Fees, BEFORE the late fees are assessed, by one of these methods:
- Email to the email the tenant provided in the lease or otherwise. Keep a copy of the email on file.
- Certified mail to the address for notices in the lease. Keep a copy of the written and dated notice mailed. Get proof from U.S.P.S. or other delivery service showing both the mailing date and delivery address of the notice.
- Posting a notice on the front door of the rental unit. Keep a copy of the written and dated notice posted. Take a time-stamped photograph of the notice posted on the front door.
- Hand delivery to the tenant. Keep a copy of the written and dated notice delivered. Get a signed and dated statement by the delivery person certifying hand delivery of the notice to the tenant.
- IF IT PASSES, THE NEW ORDINANCE WOULD BE EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2022
If it passes, the new ordinance would take effect on October 1, 2022. This means that the ordinance would NOT apply to or supersede the terms of any rental agreement, lease, or renewals that existed PRIOR to that date.
DO NOT FORGET that the ordinance requiring written 60-day notices for rent increases over 5% and termination of monthly and quarterly tenancies already took effect on May 1, 2022. Our legal update on that ordinance is HERE.
- THE NEW ORDINANCE WOULD APPLY TO ALL OF BROWARD COUNTY
The Tenant’s Bill of Rights and Notice of Late Fees Ordinance would apply to all of Broward County, including the municipalities.
- REAL ESTATE LICENSEES WOULD BE DEFINED AS “LANDLORDS”
“Landlord” would be defined as any person, company, or group that is the lessor, landlord, or property owner. That includes property managers, homeowners’ associations, co-ops, condo associations, and real estate licensees (brokers, sales associate, or broker-sales associate).
- SHORT-TERM RENTALS WOULD NOT BE IMPACTED BY THE NEW ORDINANCE
The new ordinance would only apply to residential tenancies under Chapter 83, Florida Statutes. It would NOT apply to mobile home tenancies, RV parks, or short-term rentals that are 30 days or less.
- HOW WOULD THE NEW ORDINANCE BE ENFORCED?
Code enforcement, including municipal code enforcement officers, and any law enforcement agency would be able to enforce the new ordinance.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE ORDINANCE:
ON JUNE 6, 2022, SEVERAL PROPOSED AMENDMENTS WERE FILED BY BROWARD COUNTY ADMINISTRATION AND COMMISSIONERS. THOSE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS MAY BE REJECTED OR ACCEPTED.
- ADDING A PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION
This means that tenants would be able to sue landlords based on alleged violations of the new ordinance. They would also be able to recover costs, attorneys’ fees, and damages, including punitive damages. The proposed amendment removes enforcement by code enforcement and law enforcement agencies.
- REMOVING NOTICE OF LATE FEES
This would remove the entire section requiring landlords to send separate notices of late fees before assessing late fees to tenants.
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