2017 Legislative Session Update: Week Nine

2017 Session Updates ,

It’s Cinco De Mayo and what should be the last day of the Florida legislative session. The 60-day session has been extended until at least Monday, May 8 due to unresolved budget negotiations between the House and Senate. While the final aspects of the state budget process are still being resolved, FAA can already claim several legislative victories this year. 

Two pieces of legislation that may positively affect the multifamily industry passed during this session. Firstly, HB 21 sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton (which replaced SB 76 by Sen. Tom Lee) passed both house unanimously and has been ‘‘enrolled’’ and filed to appear on the upcoming 2018 ballots. This bill is one of the 2017 priorities decided by FAA members and presented to legislators at the annual Legislative Conference.

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.

Additionally, as part of the Sadowski Coalition, FAA helped to secure more than $120 million in funding for affordable housing. Affordable housing funds are derived from ''doc stamp'' revenue (taxes collected from real estate transactions) and are distributed by the state in the form of loans. These loans are used to refurbish aging affordable housing units and build new housing, which serves Florida's most vulnerable populations (veterans, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and those experiencing homelessness). The funds help to limit inclusionary zoning, and have a positive economic impact on the state's economy. Final budget numbers are pending budget negotiations, but are expected to allocate a minimum of $123 million to housing.

In addition to supporting this legislation, FAA took a defensive strategy regarding several important bills:

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.

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 un-vetted civil suits against apartment communities in Florida.

Certified Law Enforcement Officers: A bill that could give law enforcement officers the right of early lease termination has been amended to remove any language impacting rental housing. HB 545, a bill titled ‘‘Relating to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’’ and sponsored by Rep. Bobby Payne, which until previously had no industry impact, was amended two weeks ago 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. This amendment has since been removed from the bill at FAA’s request and the bill no longer alters landlord-tenant law.

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 both sponsors 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). After several meetings with the sponsors and lobbyists representing other interest groups, the bill sponsors agreed to have the language targeting rentals removed.

Apartment owners and managers could have faces increased costs due to expediting service member spousal rental applications and background checks. The bill stated 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.” The bills hasbeen amended to remove language affecting apartment owners and managers and FAA will work with the bill sponsors and interested parties over the summer to address the primary issue the bills were intended to address.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at Courtney@faahq.org. For an in-depth 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:

Dial-in: 1-866-613-5223

Pass Code: 7647753