Florida Senate - 2020 SB 274 By Senator Rodriguez 37-00488-20 2020274__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to residential tenancies; creating s. 3 83.684, F.S.; providing legislative intent; defining 4 terms; prohibiting a landlord from evicting a tenant 5 or terminating a residential rental agreement because 6 the tenant is a victim of actual or threatened 7 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, 8 or stalking; specifying that a rental agreement may 9 not contain certain provisions; authorizing a victim 10 of such actual or threatened violence or stalking to 11 terminate a residential rental agreement without 12 penalty by providing written notice of intent to 13 terminate the agreement and to vacate the premises; 14 providing that such termination of a rental agreement 15 is effective immediately upon delivery of the written 16 notice; providing requirements for such notice of 17 termination; providing for liability for payment of 18 rent; specifying that a tenant does not forfeit any 19 deposit money or advance rent paid to the landlord for 20 terminating a rental agreement under certain 21 circumstances; providing construction; providing that 22 a perpetrator’s liability for rent and obligations 23 under a rental agreement are not terminated under 24 certain circumstances; requiring a landlord to change 25 the locks of a dwelling unit within a specified period 26 under certain circumstances; authorizing a tenant to 27 change the locks of a dwelling unit under certain 28 circumstances; prohibiting a landlord from refusing to 29 enter into or negotiate a rental agreement, from 30 making a dwelling unit unavailable, or from 31 retaliating in the rental of a dwelling unit under 32 certain circumstances; providing an exception; 33 requiring a landlord to keep certain information 34 relating to certain tenants confidential; providing 35 exceptions; authorizing a tenant to file a civil 36 action against a landlord under certain circumstances; 37 providing a civil penalty and awards for damages, 38 court costs, and attorney fees; prohibiting waiver of 39 the provisions of the act; providing an effective 40 date. 41 42 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 43 44 Section 1. Section 83.684, Florida Statutes, is created to 45 read: 46 83.684 Early termination of a residential rental agreement 47 or lock changing authorized for victims of domestic violence, 48 dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking.— 49 (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to protect tenants 50 and their minor children who are victims of actual or threatened 51 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking 52 and to facilitate relocation for their protection. 53 (2) As used in this section, the term: 54 (a) “Dating violence” has the same meaning as in s. 55 784.046(1)(d). 56 (b) “Domestic violence” has the same meaning as in s. 57 741.28. 58 (c) “Sexual violence” has the same meaning as in s. 59 784.046(1)(c). 60 (d) “Stalking” has the same meaning as the term 61 “cyberstalking” as defined in s. 784.048(1)(d). 62 (3) A landlord may not terminate a residential rental 63 agreement or evict a tenant for an incident involving actual or 64 threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, 65 or stalking if the tenant is the victim of such actual or 66 threatened violence or stalking. A rental agreement may not 67 include a provision deeming an incident involving actual or 68 threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, 69 or stalking, in which the tenant involved is a victim and not a 70 perpetrator, to be a breach of the rental agreement. A landlord 71 may not deem such incidents of actual or threatened violence or 72 stalking as grounds for terminating the rental agreement or 73 evicting the victim. 74 (4)(a) If a tenant or a tenant’s minor child is a victim of 75 actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual 76 violence, or stalking during the term of a rental agreement, the 77 tenant may, without penalty, terminate the rental agreement at 78 any time by providing the landlord with written notice of the 79 tenant’s intent to terminate the rental agreement and to vacate 80 the premises because of an incident of actual or threatened 81 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or 82 stalking. The termination of the rental agreement is effective 83 immediately upon delivery of written notice to the landlord. 84 (b) Unless the landlord notifies the tenant that 85 documentation is not needed, a notice of termination from the 86 tenant pursuant to paragraph (a) must be accompanied by 87 documentation verifying the tenant’s or his or her minor child’s 88 status as a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence, 89 dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking and may include: 90 1. A copy of an injunction for protection against domestic 91 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking issued 92 to the tenant as victim or as parent or legal guardian of a 93 minor victim; 94 2. A copy of an order of no contact or a criminal 95 conviction entered by a court in a criminal case in which the 96 defendant was charged with a crime relating to domestic 97 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking against 98 the tenant or the tenant’s minor child; 99 3. A written certification from a domestic violence center 100 certified under chapter 39 or a rape crisis center as defined in 101 s. 794.055 which states that the tenant or the tenant’s minor 102 child is a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence, 103 dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking; or 104 4. A copy of a law enforcement report documenting an 105 incident of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating 106 violence, sexual violence, or stalking against the tenant or the 107 tenant’s minor child. 108 (c) A notice of termination from the tenant pursuant to 109 this subsection shall be mailed or delivered to the landlord, a 110 person authorized to receive notices and demands in the 111 landlord’s behalf pursuant to s. 83.50, a resident manager, or 112 the person or entity that collects the rent on behalf of the 113 landlord. 114 (d) If a rental agreement with a specific duration is 115 terminated by a tenant pursuant to this subsection less than 30 116 days before the end of the rental agreement, the tenant is 117 liable for the rent for the remaining period of the rental 118 agreement. If a rental agreement with a specific duration is 119 terminated by a tenant pursuant to this subsection more than 30 120 days before the end of the rental agreement, the tenant is 121 liable for prorated rent for a period of 30 days immediately 122 following delivery of the notice of termination. The tenant is 123 released from any further obligation to pay rent, concessions, 124 damages, fees, or penalties, and the landlord is not entitled to 125 the remedies provided in s. 83.595. 126 (e) If a rental agreement is terminated by a tenant 127 pursuant to this subsection, the landlord must comply with s. 128 83.49(3). A tenant who terminates a rental agreement may not, by 129 reason of such termination, be deemed to have forfeited any 130 deposit money or advance rent paid to the landlord. 131 (f) This subsection does not affect a tenant’s liability 132 for unpaid rent or other amounts owed to the landlord before the 133 termination of the rental agreement pursuant to this subsection. 134 (g) If the perpetrator of actual or threatened domestic 135 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking is also 136 a tenant in the victim’s dwelling unit, neither the 137 perpetrator’s liability for rent nor his or her other 138 obligations under the rental agreement are terminated by 139 operation of this subsection, and the landlord is entitled to 140 the rights and remedies provided by this part against the 141 perpetrator. 142 (5)(a) A tenant or a tenant’s minor child who is a victim 143 of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, 144 sexual violence, or stalking and who wishes to remain in the 145 dwelling may make a written request to the landlord accompanied 146 by any one of the documents listed in paragraph (4)(b), and the 147 landlord shall, within 24 hours after receipt of the request, 148 change the locks of the tenant’s dwelling unit and provide the 149 tenant with a key to the new locks. 150 (b) If the landlord fails to change the locks within 24 151 hours, the tenant may change the locks without the landlord’s 152 permission, notwithstanding any contrary provision in the rental 153 agreement or other applicable rules or regulations imposed by 154 the landlord, if all of the following conditions have been met: 155 1. The locks are changed in like manner as if the landlord 156 had changed the locks, with locks of similar or better quality 157 than the original locks. 158 2. The landlord is notified within 24 hours after the 159 changing of the locks. 160 3. The landlord is provided a key to the new locks within a 161 reasonable time. 162 (c) If the locks are changed pursuant to this subsection, 163 the landlord is not liable to any person who does not have 164 access to the dwelling unit. 165 (6) A landlord may not refuse to enter into a rental 166 agreement for a dwelling unit, refuse to negotiate for the 167 rental of a dwelling unit, make a dwelling unit unavailable, or 168 retaliate in the rental of a dwelling unit solely because: 169 (a) The tenant, prospective tenant, or minor child of the 170 tenant or prospective tenant is a victim of actual or threatened 171 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or 172 stalking; or 173 (b) The tenant or prospective tenant has previously 174 terminated a rental agreement because of an incident involving 175 actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual 176 violence, or stalking in which the tenant, prospective tenant, 177 or minor child of the tenant or prospective tenant was a victim. 178 However, the landlord may refuse to enter into a rental 179 agreement or negotiate for the rental of a dwelling unit if the 180 tenant or prospective tenant fails to comply with the landlord’s 181 request for documentation of an incident of actual or threatened 182 domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking 183 which occurred before termination of a prior rental agreement. A 184 landlord’s request for documentation shall be satisfied upon the 185 tenant’s or prospective tenant’s provision of any one of the 186 documents listed in paragraph (4)(b). 187 (7) The landlord shall treat as confidential all 188 information provided to a landlord pursuant to subsections (4), 189 (5), and (6), including the fact that a tenant or a tenant’s 190 minor child is a victim of actual or threatened domestic 191 violence, dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking and 192 including the tenant’s forwarding address. The landlord may not 193 enter such information into any shared database or provide the 194 information to any other person or entity, except to the extent 195 such disclosure is: 196 (a) Made to an agent or employee of the landlord solely for 197 a legitimate business purpose; 198 (b) Requested, or consented to, in writing by the tenant or 199 the tenant’s legal guardian; 200 (c) Required for use in a judicial proceeding; or 201 (d) Otherwise required by law. 202 (8) A tenant, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of his 203 or her minor child, may file a civil action against a landlord 204 for a violation of this section. A landlord who violates 205 subsection (6) or subsection (7) is civilly liable to the victim 206 for $1,000 for punitive damages, actual and consequential 207 damages, and court costs, including reasonable attorney fees, 208 unless the landlord can show that the violation was its first 209 and the violation was not committed in bad faith. Subsequent or 210 repeated violations that are not contemporaneous with the 211 initial violation are subject to separate awards of damages. 212 (9) The provisions of this section may not be waived or 213 modified by a rental agreement. 214 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.