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Bill allowing state housing regulations to pre-empt local 'tenants bill of rights' passes in committee

The bill was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee with support from landlords and developers, and tenants asking lawmakers to oppose the legislation.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If you’re in a community like Pinellas County that recently adopted a Tenants Bill of Rights, soon, local laws like those may not even matter.

A new proposed bill would allow state rules to pre-empt any landlord-tenant regulations at the local level in Florida.

Senate bill 1586 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday afternoon, with several members of the public saying local governments know what’s best for their communities.

Karla Correa from the St. Pete Tenants Union says that’s exactly why local leaders need to speak up.

“These city governments, they need to not be complicit in this,” she said.

But landlords and property managers spoke at the committee meeting, saying that it’s difficult to navigate their properties across jurisdictions that have different rules.

“Trying to keep up with all the rules and regulations of all the different local ordinances is a training nightmare,” said one woman who was in support of the bill.

Some in favor of the bill said that the "one size fits all" legislation isn’t the issue, and that many of the housing problems across the state come from tenants not knowing how to properly utilize protections that are already in place.  

“The tenants are not educated on their rights or how to properly demand for them,” one woman supporting the bill said. “And local governments either are not, or do not know how, to enforce these rights.”

Tenants in St. Pete like Correa say this is an example of state overreach, and that the bill will harm people who are already struggling.

“A lot of people are being hurt, and a lot of people are going to continue being hurt unless something changes,” she said. “What bills like this serve to do is further line the pockets of these developers.”

That bill passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon with a vote of 8 to 3.

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