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Florida Legislative Update #8

Advocacy News ,

 Florida Legislative Session Update #8:
Session Ends with Major Wins for the Apartment Industry

 
The 2020 Legislative Session has now come to an end. Below is a brief recap of where FAA's policy priorities stand. If you have any questions regarding FAA's advocacy efforts or the legislation listed below, please contact amanda@faahq.org.
 
 
 
State Budget/Affordable Housing Funding Update
 
  • For the first time in 13 years, the final budget that was passed by both the House and Senate includes FULL FUNDING of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This was a major victory for the apartment industry and the people of Florida who are in desperate need for affordable housing. The budget now proceeds to the Governor's desk for final approval.
  • The $370 million in funding includes:
  • Affordable Housing Programs (like SAIL): $115,000,000
  • SHIP: $225,000,000
  • Hurricane Housing Recovery: $30,000,000
 
2020 Legislative Victories
 
Reduce Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Fraud (HB 209/SB 1084)
  • The House and Senate voted to pass SB 1084, which is now on its way to the Governor. FAA is hopeful this important legislation will be signed into law.
  • SB 1084 will add Florida to a growing list of states that are working to prevent fraudulent ESAs in housing.
  • This bill states that when someone’s disability-related need is not readily apparent, a housing provider can ask the resident to provide information from a licensed provider who is acting within his/her scope of practice to attest to the resident’s disability-related need. 
  • In the event the resident has more than one ESA, a housing provider can request reliable documentation for the disability-related need associated with each ESA. 
  • The bill also provides a strong deterrent by making it a misdemeanor crime to falsify documentation or otherwise misrepresent information relating to using or being qualified to use an ESA.
 
Affordable Housing (HB 1339/SB 998)
  • HB 1339 was passed by both the House and Senate. The bill is now awaiting the Governor's signature.
  • HB 1339 will make a series of changes related to housing. If signed into law, the bill will provide local governments with the ability to approve the development of affordable housing on any parcel of land that is zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use.
  • The bill also imposes additional annual impact fee reporting requirements on local governments and establishes biannual affordable housing workshops, among other positive changes.
  • The bill was amended late in the legislative session to allow local governments to institute what are commonly referred to as linkage fees. Under the bill, local governments will be required to offset the housing developer's costs associated with a linkage fee by offering incentives (similar to the requirements under FAA's 2019 priority bill HB 7103).
  • Linkage fees are used by local governments to collect funds from commercial development and/or market rate residential development to be placed in a trust fund for affordable housing.
 
Subscribing Witness Requirement (HB 469)
  • HB 469 passed by a unanimous vote in the House on February 5. The Senate subsequently passed HB 469 on March 5. FAA is hopeful that this legislation will be signed into law by the Governor.
  • HB 469/SB 1224 would remove the subscribing witness requirement for leases that exceed one year. 
  • FAA strongly supports HB 469/SB 1224. This legislation is important for FAA members because lease renewals, which are often completed via an electronic signature, routinely exceed one year. When using an electronic signature, the witness requirement that currently exists in state law can be problematic.
 
Evictions During a State of Emergency (HB 321)
  • We are pleased to report HB 321 did not advance during the 2020 legislative session.
  • As introduced these bills would prohibit a writ, process, warrant, order, or judgment relating to a residential eviction from being served during a state of emergency declared by the president, governor, or governing body of a political subdivision. The legislation as introduced would also impose a 15-day waiting period after the end of a declared state of emergency before an eviction could be served.
  • During HB 321's initial committee hearing, Rep. Michael Grieco (the bill sponsor) introduced a substitute that included drastic changes to the bill language. The substitute Rep. Grieco presented would prohibit a sheriff from serving or executing a writ of possession in a county that is under a hurricane watch or hurricane warning until five days after the termination of the hurricane watch or hurricane warning. The committee voted to advance this revised version of the bill on February 4.
 
Legislation FAA Opposed that Passed
 
Housing Discrimination Complaints (SB 374)
  • FAA regrets to inform members that after successfully fighting similar legislation for several years, SB 374 was passed by the House and Senate by a unanimous vote and will be presented to the Governor.
  • This legislation will allow someone who believes they are a victim of housing discrimination to bypass the administrative complaint process and proceed straight to legal action, which could increase legal costs for property owners.
  • FAA strongly opposed this legislation. However, this bill had significantly more momentum than in years past.
  • That is likely because the Florida Commission on Human Relations was strongly advocating in favor of this legislation and claimed HUD funding could be cut if this bill was not passed during the 2020 session.
 
NAA Grassroots Advocacy:
Help Us Urge Congress to Protect Apartments
 
Today, NAA launched a grassroots alert asking Congress to include apartments in any relief package related to COVID-19, including relief for residents and mortgage forbearance for owners/operators. The time frame is tight as all depends on the Senate acting before it adjourns in the coming days. We hope you will take a few moments to participate in the call to action below.
 
Click here to send an email to your U.S. Representative and Senator today!
 
Note: If you receive an error message due to a character limit from a members of Congress, you may need to delete the last paragraph of the call to action message before hitting send.