Perpetual Tax on Renters Filed Again in Tallahassee, Coalition of Renters & Advocates Prepares to Defeat it Again

TALLAHASSEE — Following its defeat during the 2022 Florida legislative session, Representative Jim Mooney (R-Islamorada) has once again filed legislation, HB 133, to allow landlords to charge tenants perpetual fees in lieu of paying a security deposit. As currently written, the bill is essentially identical to the legislation which passed the Florida House last year but died in the Senate in the face of passionate opposition from a coalition of renters, tenant lawyers, and affordable housing advocates. Renters, workers, and seniors on fixed incomes would be disproportionately hurt by this corporate backed proposal to profiteer off of the housing crisis their predatory practices created.

Under this bill, renters would be charged a new limitless and perpetual fee as part of their lease instead of a refundable security deposit. There is no cap on the amount of the fee, the period of time for which it could be charged, or guarantees that failure to pay the fee will not result in eviction. Additionally, tenants would be offered no protection against potential litigation from the company used by the landlord for damages, a process known as a subrogation claim.

This business scheme has been found to be illegal in other states, and is pushed by out of state companies and their investors, who want their predatory business scheme codified into state law. Companies like LeaseLock and Rhino and the large private equity firms, insurance company giants, and investors behind them have spent an estimated $80,000 on lobbying for the bill and have showered legislators with campaign contributions. 

“The cost of housing in the state of Florida is a crisis in need of real solutions,” said Florida Rising member Jus Foster of Jacksonville. “Instead of offering tenants protections against rent gouging, stopping inflated security deposits that price out renters, or working to increase the supply of available affordable housing options, legislators are once again pushing a corporate backed proposal that will act as a perpetual tax on low-income workers and seniors throughout our state.”

“In a state with the steepest rent increases in the country, the last thing we need is more rental fees that increase the cost of living and lock folks into poverty,” stated Alana Greer, Director of the Community Justice Project in Miami. “If Florida lawmakers’ were serious about tackling our affordable housing crisis, they would not be championing bills for corporate profiteers.”

“Floridians are suffering under some of the highest housing costs and lowest wages in the country, and this bill does absolutely nothing to change that,” stated Jay Mobley, Senior Housing and Consumer Debt attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc. “In fact, it raises a tenant’s monthly housing costs permanently, tremendously increases their risk of being sued once they move out, yet requires tenants to waive rights they currently have under Florida Law to defend themselves against such lawsuits. Just like last year, our statewide coalition will continue to advocate on behalf of renters and against corporate greed disguised as tenant friendly legislation.”