Florida Senate - 2021                                     SB 926
       By Senator Rouson
       19-00342-21                                            2021926__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to public records; creating s. 83.626,
    3         F.S.; requiring a court to seal, upon request, a court
    4         record relating to an action by a landlord for the
    5         possession of a dwelling unit based upon the
    6         nonpayment of rent if certain requirements are met;
    7         exempting such court records from public records
    8         requirements; providing a statement of public
    9         necessity; providing an effective date.
   11  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   13         Section 1. Section 83.626, Florida Statutes, is created to
   14  read:
   15         83.626 Court-ordered sealing of eviction records relating
   16  to COVID-19.—The court shall seal, upon motion by the defendant,
   17  a court record relating to an action by a landlord for the
   18  possession of a dwelling unit based upon nonpayment of rent if
   19  the complaint was filed on or after March 1, 2020, and if the
   20  court finds that the tenant was adversely impacted by COVID-19.
   21  Such sealed records are confidential and exempt from s. 24(a),
   22  Art. I of the State Constitution.
   23         Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public
   24  necessity that certain court records relating to an action by a
   25  landlord for the possession of a dwelling unit based upon
   26  nonpayment of rent be made exempt from s. 24(a), Article I of
   27  the State Constitution. The United States Department of Health
   28  and Human Services has determined that a public health emergency
   29  exists as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and studies have
   30  shown that the availability of adequate housing has a direct
   31  impact on a person’s health. The COVID-19 pandemic has also
   32  negatively impacted state and federal economies. If eviction
   33  records for tenants that were adversely impacted by COVID-19 are
   34  publicly searchable, landlords are more likely to refuse to rent
   35  to such tenants. This will exacerbate the health and economic
   36  issues in this state resulting from the pandemic. Therefore, it
   37  is necessary that court records relating to evictions for
   38  tenants who were adversely impacted by COVID-19 be protected to
   39  ensure that the negative health and economic impacts of COVID-19
   40  on this state are not exacerbated.
   41         Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.