Florida Senate - 2017                                     SB 564
       By Senator Campbell
       38-00759-17                                            2017564__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to landlords and tenants; amending ss.
    3         83.51, 83.64, and 83.67, F.S.; providing criminal
    4         penalties for specified prohibited practices by a
    5         landlord relating to maintenance of the premises,
    6         retaliatory conduct, and other protections; providing
    7         an effective date.
    9  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   11         Section 1. Section 83.51, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   12  read:
   13         83.51 Landlord’s obligation to maintain premises.—
   14         (1) The landlord at all times during the tenancy shall:
   15         (a) Comply with the requirements of applicable building,
   16  housing, and health codes; or
   17         (b) Where there are no applicable building, housing, or
   18  health codes, maintain the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps,
   19  porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural
   20  components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces
   21  and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. The
   22  landlord, at commencement of the tenancy, must ensure that
   23  screens are installed in a reasonable condition. Thereafter, the
   24  landlord must repair damage to screens once annually, when
   25  necessary, until termination of the rental agreement.
   27  The landlord is not required to maintain a mobile home or other
   28  structure owned by the tenant. The landlord’s obligations under
   29  this subsection may be altered or modified in writing with
   30  respect to a single-family home or duplex.
   31         (2)(a) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, in addition to
   32  the requirements of subsection (1), the landlord of a dwelling
   33  unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all
   34  times during the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:
   35         1. The extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood
   36  destroying organisms, and bedbugs. When vacation of the premises
   37  is required for such extermination, the landlord is not liable
   38  for damages but shall abate the rent. The tenant must
   39  temporarily vacate the premises for a period of time not to
   40  exceed 4 days, on 7 days’ written notice, if necessary, for
   41  extermination pursuant to this subparagraph.
   42         2. Locks and keys.
   43         3. The clean and safe condition of common areas.
   44         4. Garbage removal and outside receptacles therefor.
   45         5. Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running
   46  water, and hot water.
   47         (b) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, at the commencement
   48  of the tenancy of a single-family home or duplex, the landlord
   49  shall install working smoke detection devices. As used in this
   50  paragraph, the term “smoke detection device” means an electrical
   51  or battery-operated device that which detects visible or
   52  invisible particles of combustion and which is listed by
   53  Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Factory Mutual Laboratories,
   54  Inc., or any other nationally recognized testing laboratory
   55  using nationally accepted testing standards.
   56         (c) Nothing in this part authorizes the tenant to raise a
   57  noncompliance by the landlord with this subsection as a defense
   58  to an action for possession under s. 83.59.
   59         (d) This subsection shall not apply to a mobile home owned
   60  by a tenant.
   61         (e) Nothing contained in this subsection prohibits the
   62  landlord from providing in the rental agreement that the tenant
   63  is obligated to pay costs or charges for garbage removal, water,
   64  fuel, or utilities.
   65         (3) If the duty imposed by subsection (1) is the same or
   66  greater than any duty imposed by subsection (2), the landlord’s
   67  duty is determined by subsection (1).
   68         (4) The landlord is not responsible to the tenant under
   69  this section for conditions created or caused by the negligent
   70  or wrongful act or omission of the tenant, a member of the
   71  tenant’s family, or other person on the premises with the
   72  tenant’s consent.
   73         (5) Any person who violates this section commits a
   74  misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
   75  775.082 or s. 775.083. A second or subsequent offense
   76  constitutes a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided
   77  in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
   78         Section 2. Section 83.64, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   79  read:
   80         83.64 Retaliatory conduct.—
   81         (1) It is unlawful for a landlord to discriminatorily
   82  increase a tenant’s rent or decrease services to a tenant, or to
   83  bring or threaten to bring an action for possession or other
   84  civil action, primarily because the landlord is retaliating
   85  against the tenant. In order for the tenant to raise the defense
   86  of retaliatory conduct, the tenant must have acted in good
   87  faith. Examples of conduct for which the landlord may not
   88  retaliate include, but are not limited to, situations where:
   89         (a) The tenant has complained to a governmental agency
   90  charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building,
   91  housing, or health code of a suspected violation applicable to
   92  the premises;
   93         (b) The tenant has organized, encouraged, or participated
   94  in a tenant organization;
   95         (c) The tenant has complained to the landlord pursuant to
   96  s. 83.56(1);
   97         (d) The tenant is a servicemember who has terminated a
   98  rental agreement pursuant to s. 83.682;
   99         (e) The tenant has paid rent to a condominium, cooperative,
  100  or homeowners’ association after demand from the association in
  101  order to pay the landlord’s obligation to the association; or
  102         (f) The tenant has exercised his or her rights under local,
  103  state, or federal fair housing laws.
  104         (2) Evidence of retaliatory conduct may be raised by the
  105  tenant as a defense in any action brought against him or her for
  106  possession.
  107         (3) In any event, this section does not apply if the
  108  landlord proves that the eviction is for good cause. Examples of
  109  good cause include, but are not limited to, good faith actions
  110  for nonpayment of rent, violation of the rental agreement or of
  111  reasonable rules, or violation of the terms of this chapter.
  112         (4) “Discrimination” under this section means that a tenant
  113  is being treated differently as to the rent charged, the
  114  services rendered, or the action being taken by the landlord,
  115  which shall be a prerequisite to a finding of retaliatory
  116  conduct.
  117         (5) Any person who violates this section commits a
  118  misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
  119  775.082 or s. 775.083. A second or subsequent offense
  120  constitutes a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided
  121  in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  122         Section 3. Section 83.67, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  123  read:
  124         83.67 Prohibited practices.—
  125         (1) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part
  126  shall not cause, directly or indirectly, the termination or
  127  interruption of any utility service furnished the tenant,
  128  including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity,
  129  gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, whether or
  130  not the utility service is under the control of, or payment is
  131  made by, the landlord.
  132         (2) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part
  133  shall not prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to
  134  the dwelling unit by any means, including, but not limited to,
  135  changing the locks or using any bootlock or similar device.
  136         (3) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part
  137  shall not discriminate against a servicemember in offering a
  138  dwelling unit for rent or in any of the terms of the rental
  139  agreement.
  140         (4) A landlord shall not prohibit a tenant from displaying
  141  one portable, removable, cloth or plastic United States flag,
  142  not larger than 4 and 1/2 feet by 6 feet, in a respectful manner
  143  in or on the dwelling unit regardless of any provision in the
  144  rental agreement dealing with flags or decorations. The United
  145  States flag shall be displayed in accordance with s. 83.52(6).
  146  The landlord is not liable for damages caused by a United States
  147  flag displayed by a tenant. Any United States flag may not
  148  infringe upon the space rented by any other tenant.
  149         (5) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part
  150  shall not remove the outside doors, locks, roof, walls, or
  151  windows of the unit except for purposes of maintenance, repair,
  152  or replacement; and the landlord shall not remove the tenant’s
  153  personal property from the dwelling unit unless such action is
  154  taken after surrender, abandonment, recovery of possession of
  155  the dwelling unit due to the death of the last remaining tenant
  156  in accordance with s. 83.59(3)(d), or a lawful eviction. If
  157  provided in the rental agreement or a written agreement separate
  158  from the rental agreement, upon surrender or abandonment by the
  159  tenant, the landlord is not required to comply with s. 715.104
  160  and is not liable or responsible for storage or disposition of
  161  the tenant’s personal property; if provided in the rental
  162  agreement, there must be printed or clearly stamped on such
  163  rental agreement a legend in substantially the following form:
  170  For the purposes of this section, abandonment shall be as set
  171  forth in s. 83.59(3)(c).
  172         (6) A landlord who violates any provision of this section
  173  shall be liable to the tenant for actual and consequential
  174  damages or 3 months’ rent, whichever is greater, and costs,
  175  including attorney’s fees. Subsequent or repeated violations
  176  that are not contemporaneous with the initial violation shall be
  177  subject to separate awards of damages.
  178         (7) A violation of this section constitutes irreparable
  179  harm for the purposes of injunctive relief.
  180         (8) The remedies provided by this section are not exclusive
  181  and do not preclude the tenant from pursuing any other remedy at
  182  law or equity which that the tenant may have. The remedies
  183  provided by this section shall also apply to a servicemember who
  184  is a prospective tenant who has been discriminated against under
  185  subsection (3).
  186         (9) Any person who violates this section commits a
  187  misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
  188  775.082 or s. 775.083. A second or subsequent offense
  189  constitutes a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided
  190  in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  191         Section 4. This act shall take effect October 1, 2017.