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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and 90.7 WMFE.

Florida lawmakers passes security deposit alternative bill for renters

Beautiful apartment buildings line the sunlit streets of the "All Saints" district in Tallahassee.
Patrick Sternad
/
WFSU Public Media
Beautiful apartment buildings line the sunlit streets of the "All Saints" district in Tallahassee.

Critics worry the rule would let landlords take advantage of renters.

A bill (HB 133) that lets landlords charge fees instead of security deposits heads to the governor’s desk Friday. Senators voted to pass the bill 31-7.

Supporters of the bill say the legislation allows people to get into apartments more easily without having to pay a chunk of money upfront.

Republican bill sponsor James Vernon Mooney says the practice is already happening. His measure puts protections in place and could save Floridians thousands.

“This bill literally puts guardrails on existing processes ongoing around the State of Florida,” said Mooney. “This will make sure that the tenants that do take the opportunity to do it in lieu of a security deposit, will be protected as is if they paid their security deposit and that is the bill.”

Under HB 133, landlords could use the money to purchase insurance to cover small repairs. The bill notes that the plan is not required, nor refundable meaning that while renters typically hope to get a security deposit back when they move out, they’ll get no money back if they go the fee route.

Democratic Rep. Dianne Hart argues that the bill gives landlords too much leverage. She says without a cap, owners could take advantage of low-income tenants.

“You had me for a moment, but I have to vote down on this bill today because I understand that there are too many ways for those of us who makes money off the back of our constituents, that we could do better,” said Hart. “I just think we need to force these big companies to do a little bit better.”

Mooney said renters should expect to pay based on the current market average. He said he’s seen fees as low as $11 and as high as $25 monthly fee on a $1,500-a-month lease. He says fees are a part of everyday life.

“Guess what…parking fees, dog fees, fob fees, spa fees, pool fees; they are everywhere,” said Mooney. “This is not a junk fee. This gets you and your family to where you need to be at that moment…period.”

The measure would apply to any rental agreements made or renewed after July 1 of this year.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.