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St. Pete moves to require landlords to provide notice of rights for renters

Megan Holmes

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St. Petersburg City Council last week voted unanimously to approve an amendment requiring landlords within the city to provide a notice of tenants’ rights in printed or electronic form.

The ordinance would have gone into effect May 1, but the second reading of the amendment was pushed back due to COVID-19. The ordinance will now likely go into effect around Sept. 1, according to Council member Amy Foster.

Foster, who championed the notice of rights, has worked on the requirement for months, incorporating public input from property owners and renters alike, and working with the city’s legal department to devise clear, uncomplicated language for renters.

“I’m very supportive of this,” said Council member Gina Driscoll. “I’m glad we’re reaching those that we can. I hope that with this process of advising new tenants will help raise awareness for everyone.”

Numerous property managers joined the Council meeting via Zoom to express their concern about over-regulation of rental agreements within the city, a concern they say is driving out small investors in cities on the West Coast, like Seattle and Portland. The Tenant’s Rights notice does not enumerate any new rights for tenants, but instead explains rights already enumerated by Florida state law.

The rights explained in the written notification include:

That residential units are fit for habitation: that includes requirements of minimum standards like working plumbing and heating; locking doors and windows; and that units be generally pest-free (single family home rentals may be the tenant’s responsibility).

Protection from retaliation and discrimination. Renters are protected from retaliatory measures such as raising rent or threatening eviction due to a tenant reporting violations of safety or health standards. Renters are also generally protected from discrimination based on race, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or other protected criteria.

Right to challenge an eviction or unlawful violation of lease agreement, meaning the right to take the landlord to court for any unlawful action perpetrated against them by their landlord.

Read the full notice below:

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