Housing crisis

Tenants’ Bill of Rights Attacks County’s Rental Housing Crisis

Miami – In the first of its kind, MiamiDade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava signed into law the county’s Tenants’ Bill of Rights that would protect tenants from their landlords and help ease their burden during an affordable housing crisis.

Cava, flanked by county commissioners at a news conference last week, said the first-ever tenants’ bill of rights would raise awareness of tenants’ rights and provide guidance on available community resources.

Cava will also create a housing advocacy office to help direct tenants to the appropriate agencies with the resources available to help them.

The Office of Housing Advocacy will also be responsible for training, working with community and professional groups representing tenants and landlords, and publishing and disseminating information and education materials relating to the Bill of Rights. tenants.

In April, the county declared an affordable crisis and made $13 million in rent assistance available to tenants struggling to pay rent after landlords raised their rates by more than 20%.

“As house prices and rents continue to rise, our families face an urgent threat to their quality of life, Cava said. “As a longtime community advocate, I am committed to meeting the housing needs of all of our residents, which is why my administration has stepped up to do everything possible to address the affordability crisis. ”

County Commissioner Jean Monestime sponsored Tennat’s Bill of Rights Ordinance, and his fellow county commissioners unanimously passed the legislation on May 3.

Cava’s signing made it official on May 13.

Monestime said he was concerned about the lack of housing affordability faced by Miami-Dade County residents as rising real estate prices coupled with low wages have created a housing crisis in the area. county, which has some of the most expensive housing costs in the country.

“As you know, I’m very passionate about this topic,” said Monestime, whose district is affected by the affordable housing crisis. “I also want to thank this board for being so collegial about this. We all understand that we are doing everything for the betterment of Miami-Dade County.

“We’re just trying to provide equity to those who need it most. When the Miami Workers Center and housing advocacy groups approached our office with the goal of drafting the Tenant Bill of Rights, it became my solemn imperative to help bring these ideas to life.”

New law allows tenants to deduct costs of neglected repairs from their rent, prohibits landlords from asking about past evictions, landlords are required to notify tenants of new landlords, protects tenants from retaliation they seek government assistance against their landlord and create the Housing Defense Office.

▪The new Tenant’s Bill of Rights goes hand in hand with a new county ordinance that requires landlords to give 60 days notice when raising rent by more than 5%.

The legal ramifications of the new law caught the attention of Miami Realtors, which represents more than 60,000 real estate agents in South Florida.

Miami Realtors said that while he shares the county’s goal of creating the Tenant’s Bill of Rights, promoting and strengthening housing stability in Miami-Dade County, he is concerned that the new law will open landlords have an important responsibility because tenants can now sue them. for alleged violations. “The lack of public education on the Tenant Bill of Rights would not be as inconvenient as it is, but for the private right of action,” Miami Realtors CEO Teresa King Kinney said. in a letter to Cava and the county commissioners. “Landlords’ failure to comply with something as simple as not providing a copy of the Tenant’s Bill of Rights to a tenant, using the required Housing Advocacy Office form which does not yet exist , may take them to court, subject to attorney fees, costs and interest.

“We want to reiterate that Miami Realtors shares the purpose of the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners in creating the Tenant Bill of Rights – to promote and enhance housing stability in Miami-Dade County. Unfortunately, without further amendments which provide ample opportunity for the community to provide meaningful feedback, we are concerned about the unintended consequences that will defeat the intent of this legislation.”

Kinney said she hopes her group and the county will reach a compromise by changing the ordinance.

She stopped threatening legal action against the county.

Nevertheless, the new Tenant Bill of Rights Ordinance is a victory for tenants.

Gail Mason, who lives in a rented house in Miami, said she was relieved to be able to deduct rent payments from renovating the house when its landlord neglected to make repairs.

“I’m so happy,” said Mason, who pays $1,500 in rent a month. “Paying to fix the house and paying the rent at the same time is draining me financially.”