Florida Senate - 2017 SB 1274 By Senator Rodriguez 37-00538A-17 20171274__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to residential tenancies; creating s. 3 83.684, F.S.; providing legislative intent; providing 4 definitions; prohibiting a landlord from evicting a 5 tenant or terminating a residential rental agreement 6 because the tenant or the tenant’s minor child is a 7 victim of actual or threatened domestic violence, 8 dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking; 9 specifying that a rental agreement may not contain 10 certain provisions; authorizing a victim of such 11 actual or threatened violence or stalking to terminate 12 a residential rental agreement under certain 13 circumstances; providing procedures to notify the 14 landlord; providing for liability for payment of rent; 15 specifying that a tenant does not forfeit any deposit 16 money or advance rent paid to the landlord for 17 terminating the rental agreement under certain 18 circumstances; providing that the perpetrator’s 19 liability for rent and obligations under the rental 20 agreement are not terminated; requiring a landlord to 21 change the locks of the dwelling unit within a 22 specified period, under certain circumstances; 23 authorizing the tenant to change the locks of the 24 dwelling unit under certain circumstances; prohibiting 25 a landlord from refusing to enter into or to negotiate 26 a rental agreement, from making a dwelling unit 27 unavailable, or from retaliating in the rental of a 28 dwelling unit under certain circumstances; requiring a 29 landlord to keep certain information related to 30 tenants confidential; providing exceptions; providing 31 a penalty and awards for damages, court costs, and 32 attorney fees; prohibiting waiver of the provisions of 33 the act; providing an effective date. 34 35 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 36 37 Section 1. Section 83.684, Florida Statutes, is created to 38 read: 39 83.684 Early termination of a residential rental agreement 40 or lock changing authorized for victims of domestic violence, 41 dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking.— 42 (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to protect tenants 43 and their minor children who are victims of actual or threatened 44 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking 45 and to facilitate relocation for their protection. 46 (2) As used in this section, the term: 47 (a) “Dating violence” has the same meaning as in s. 48 784.046. 49 (b) “Domestic violence” has the same meaning as in s. 50 741.28. 51 (c) “Sexual violence” has the same meaning as in s. 52 784.046. 53 (d) “Stalking” has the same meaning as in s. 784.048. 54 (3) A landlord may not terminate a residential rental 55 agreement or evict a tenant for an incident involving actual or 56 threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, 57 or stalking if the tenant is the victim of such actual or 58 threatened violence or stalking. A rental agreement may not 59 include a provision deeming an incident involving actual or 60 threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, 61 or stalking, in which the tenant involved is a victim and not 62 the perpetrator, to be a breach of the rental agreement. A 63 landlord may not deem such incidents of actual or threatened 64 violence or stalking as grounds for terminating the rental 65 agreement or evicting the victim. 66 (4)(a) If a tenant or a tenant’s minor child is a victim of 67 actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual 68 violence, or stalking during the term of a rental agreement, the 69 tenant may, without penalty, terminate the rental agreement at 70 any time by providing the landlord with written notice of the 71 tenant’s intent to terminate the rental agreement and to vacate 72 the premises because of an incident of actual or threatened 73 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or 74 stalking. The termination of the rental agreement is effective 75 immediately upon delivery of written notice to the landlord. 76 (b) Unless the landlord notifies the tenant that 77 documentation is not needed, a notice of termination from the 78 tenant pursuant to paragraph (a) must be accompanied by 79 documentation verifying the tenant’s or his or her minor child’s 80 status as a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence, 81 dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking and may include: 82 1. A copy of an injunction for protection against domestic 83 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking issued 84 to the tenant as victim or as parent of a minor victim; 85 2. A copy of an order of no contact or a criminal 86 conviction entered by a court in a criminal case in which the 87 defendant was charged with a crime relating to domestic 88 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking against 89 the tenant or the tenant’s minor child; 90 3. A written certification from a domestic violence center 91 certified under chapter 39 or a rape crisis center as defined in 92 s. 794.055 which states that the tenant or the tenant’s minor 93 child is a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence, 94 dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking; or 95 4. A copy of a law enforcement report documenting an 96 incident of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating 97 violence, sexual violence, or stalking against the tenant or the 98 tenant’s minor child. 99 (c) A notice of termination from the tenant pursuant to 100 this subsection shall be mailed or delivered to the landlord, 101 the landlord’s representative designated pursuant to s. 83.50, a 102 resident manager, or the person or entity that collects the rent 103 on behalf of the landlord. 104 (d) If a rental agreement with a specific duration is 105 terminated by a tenant pursuant to this subsection less than 30 106 days before the end of the rental agreement, the tenant is 107 liable for the rent for the remaining period of the rental 108 agreement. If a rental agreement with a specific duration is 109 terminated by a tenant pursuant to this subsection more than 30 110 days before the end of the rental agreement, the tenant is 111 liable for prorated rent for a period of 30 days immediately 112 following delivery of the notice of termination. The tenant is 113 released from any further obligation to pay rent, concessions, 114 damages, fees, or penalties, and the landlord is not entitled to 115 the remedies provided in s. 83.595. 116 (e) If a rental agreement is terminated by a tenant 117 pursuant to this subsection, the landlord must comply with s. 118 83.49(3). A tenant who terminates a rental agreement may not, by 119 reason of such termination, be deemed to have forfeited any 120 deposit money or advance rent paid to the landlord. 121 (f) This subsection does not affect a tenant’s liability 122 for unpaid rent or other amounts owed to the landlord before the 123 termination of the rental agreement pursuant to this subsection. 124 (g) If the perpetrator of actual or threatened domestic 125 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking is also 126 a tenant in the tenant’s dwelling unit, neither the 127 perpetrator’s liability for rent nor his or her other 128 obligations under the rental agreement are terminated by 129 operation of this subsection, and the landlord is entitled to 130 the rights and remedies provided by this part against the 131 perpetrator. 132 (5)(a) A tenant or a tenant’s minor child who is a victim 133 of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, 134 sexual violence, or stalking and who wishes to remain in the 135 dwelling may make a written request to the landlord accompanied 136 by any one of the documents listed in paragraph (4)(b), and the 137 landlord shall, within 24 hours after receipt of the request, 138 change the locks of the tenant’s dwelling unit and provide the 139 tenant with a key to the new locks. 140 (b) If the landlord fails to change the locks within 24 141 hours, the tenant may change the locks without the landlord’s 142 permission, notwithstanding any contrary provision in the rental 143 agreement or other applicable rules or regulations imposed by 144 the landlord, if all of the following conditions have been met: 145 1. The locks are changed in like manner as if the landlord 146 had changed the locks, with locks of similar or better quality 147 than the original locks. 148 2. The landlord is notified within 24 hours after the 149 changing of the locks. 150 3. The landlord is provided a key to the new locks within a 151 reasonable time. 152 (c) If the locks are changed pursuant to this subsection, 153 the landlord is not liable to any person who does not have 154 access to the dwelling unit. 155 (6) A landlord may not refuse to enter into a rental 156 agreement for a dwelling unit, refuse to negotiate for the 157 rental of a dwelling unit, make a dwelling unit unavailable, or 158 retaliate in the rental of a dwelling unit solely because: 159 (a) The tenant, prospective tenant, or minor child of the 160 tenant or prospective tenant is a victim of actual or threatened 161 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or 162 stalking; or 163 (b) The tenant or prospective tenant has previously 164 terminated a rental agreement because of an incident involving 165 actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual 166 violence, or stalking in which the tenant, prospective tenant, 167 or minor child of the tenant or prospective tenant was a victim. 168 However, the landlord may refuse to enter into a rental 169 agreement or negotiate for the rental of a dwelling unit if the 170 tenant or prospective tenant fails to comply with the landlord’s 171 request for documentation of an incident of actual or threatened 172 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking 173 that occurred before termination of a prior rental agreement. A 174 landlord’s request for documentation shall be satisfied upon the 175 tenant’s or prospective tenant’s provision of any one of the 176 documents listed in paragraph (4)(b). 177 (7) The landlord shall treat as confidential all 178 information provided to a landlord pursuant to subsections (4), 179 (5), and (6), including the fact that a tenant or a tenant’s 180 minor child is a victim of actual or threatened domestic 181 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking and 182 including the tenant’s forwarding address. The landlord may not 183 enter such information into any shared database or provide the 184 information to any other person or entity, except to the extent 185 such disclosure is: 186 (a) Made to an agent or employee of the landlord solely for 187 a legitimate business purpose; 188 (b) Requested, or consented to, in writing by the tenant or 189 the tenant’s legal guardian; 190 (c) Required for use in a judicial proceeding; or 191 (d) Otherwise required by law. 192 (8) A tenant, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of his 193 or her minor child, may file a civil action against a landlord 194 for a violation of this section. A landlord who violates 195 subsection (6) or subsection (7) is civilly liable to the victim 196 for $1,000 for punitive damages, actual and consequential 197 damages, and court costs, including reasonable attorney fees, 198 unless the landlord can show that the violation was its first 199 and the violation was not committed in bad faith. Subsequent or 200 repeated violations that are not contemporaneous with the 201 initial violation are subject to separate awards of damages. 202 (9) The provisions of this section may not be waived or 203 modified by a rental agreement. 204 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.