2016 Legislative Session Update: Week Seven

2016 Session Updates ,

Last week marked the end of the seventh week of session. There are only a few days left before the end of session on March 11. Many bills that could potentially affect the apartment industry are on the move! Here is an update of what happened in Tallahassee last week.

Expanding the Allowable Repairs by Maintenance Professionals: HB 535, sponsored by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral) was read on the House floor on March 3, 2016. The bill was voted on and overwhelmingly passed 116-0! This is very positive news for the apartment industry. The Senate will take up the passed House version of the bill for a vote in the Senate next week. SB 704 sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) should be "laid on the table" next week when the Senate adopts the companion House version of the bill (to lay a bill on the table means the Senate will set aside their version of the bill (SB 704) and will take up the passed House companion of the bill). Each piece of legislation filed in Florida is heard in three committees in both the House and the Senate. After passing all three committee votes, the legislation is read and voted on by each full chamber (House and Senate).

How this affects you: SB 704/HB 535 allows Certified Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMTs) to perform HVAC, water heater, and AC repairs below $1,000. 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 who have a CAMT rather than outsourcing to contractors.

What you can do to help:  
Please reach out to your Senator and tell them to vote yes on SB 704/HB 535. We need as much support as possible in the home stretch!
You can find your Senator's contact information here . You can also copy and paste this link into your browser: https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find.

You can call your Senator or use this email template below: 

Dear Senator,
 
Apartment communities across Florida urge you to pass HB 535/ SB 704. The House passed HB 535 with a vote of 119-0. We ask you to also support this important legislation. Apartment community owners have a vested interest in maintaining our properties. We hire highly trained and experienced professionals capable of performing minor repairs. Unfortunately, under current Florida statute our certified maintenance professionals cannot not make most minor repairs.  
 
This exemption is beneficial to apartment residents by allowing on-site repairs to be done quickly and cost efficiently. Additionally, this exemption does not preempt any county ordinances regarding property maintenance. Please allow highly trained maintenance professionals to do the job they are trained to do by passing HB 535/ 704.

Thank You,

Renters Insurance: SB 342 sponsored by Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) passed its second reading in the Senate. The bill was read and passed a final vote of 39-0! This bill allows an apartment community to specify in a lease that a tenant is required to carry renters insurance. The House companion, HB 327 sponsored by Rep. Bobby Dubose (D- Fort Lauderdale), is waiting to be heard in its second committee. The Senate version of the bill may be adopted by the House in the final days of session. It is unlikely the House version of the bill will be scheduled in a committee.
How this affects you: SB 342/HB 327 allows a landlord to specify in a lease if renters insurance is required by the community. The landlord may also state in the lease the amount and types of coverage required.
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. ​

​Please stay tuned for updates next week.