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New Bill in Florida Allows Landlords to offer Tenants Monthly Fee instead of Security Deposit

Updated: Jan 6

On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a significant bill that sparked debate in Florida. The new legislation, known as HB 133, permits landlords to offer monthly fees to tenants as an alternative to traditional security deposits. While the bill has its proponents who believe it will help alleviate the burden of upfront costs for renters, opponents raise concerns about the lack of fee caps and the potential financial implications for tenants.




Key Takeaway:

Florida's HB 133, effective July 1, 2023, allows landlords to offer monthly fees instead of security deposits. While supporters see it as a relief for upfront costs, critics worry about the lack of fee caps. Tenants should consider the non-refundable nature of the fee, and landlords must adhere to specific requirements and disclosure obligations. The law aims to provide flexibility but requires understanding and compliance for fair leasing practices.

In this article, we will cover:



The Bill's Provisions


Starting July 1, 2023, landlords in Florida can offer monthly fees to renters instead of security deposits, as outlined in HB 133. It's important to note that landlords are not obligated to provide this alternative, and renters can choose between paying the monthly fees or opting for a traditional deposit.



Key Points for Tenants


Tenants should be aware of the following key points regarding the bill.


  • Fee Option: The bill allows landlords to offer tenants the choice to pay a fee instead of a traditional security deposit. Tenants should understand that this fee is an alternative to a security deposit and consider the implications before deciding.

  • Disclosure: The landlord must provide a written disclosure if a tenant opts for the fee instead of a security deposit. The disclosure should specify that the fee is non-refundable, does not absolve the tenant of any obligations, and any insurance purchased by the landlord does not cover the tenant.

  • Obligations Remain: Tenants should know that paying the fee does not exempt them from their obligations under the rental agreement. They are still responsible for paying rent, fees, and any costs or damages beyond normal wear and tear.

  • Termination Option: The bill allows tenants to terminate the agreement to pay the fee at any time and instead pay the security deposit specified in the rental agreement. This termination option should be clearly outlined in the written contract.

  • Credit Impact: If a tenant pays the security deposit specified in the rental agreement after opting for the fee, their default or contract termination should not adversely impact their credit report.

  • Insurance Coverage: Tenants should understand that if the landlord uses any portion of the fee to purchase insurance, they are not insured under the landlord's policy. The insurance does not change the tenant's obligations to pay rent, fees, or costs of repairing damage beyond normal wear and tear.

  • Landlord Discretion: Landlords have the exclusive discretion to offer tenants the fee option, but they cannot use a tenant's choice to pay the fee as a criterion for approving or denying an application for occupancy.


It is essential for tenants to carefully review the written agreement and seek clarification from the landlord or legal professionals to fully understand their rights, responsibilities, and the implications of choosing the fee option over a traditional security deposit.


Key Points for Landlords


Landlords should be aware of the following key points regarding the bill.


  • Fee Option: The bill allows landlords to offer tenants the option to pay a fee instead of a security deposit. Landlords should understand that this fee is an alternative to a traditional security deposit and consider the implications of offering this option.

  • Written Agreement: If a tenant chooses to pay the fee instead of a security deposit, the landlord must ensure that a written agreement is signed by either the landlord or their agent and the tenant. The contract should comply with the specified requirements and not violate relevant laws.

  • Disclosure: Landlords must provide a written disclosure to tenants who opt for the fee option. The disclosure should clearly state that the fee is non-refundable, does not absolve the tenant of any obligations, and any insurance purchased by the landlord does not cover the tenant.

  • Notice of Unpaid Fees: Within 30 days after the conclusion of the tenancy, landlords must notify tenants of any costs or fees due, including unpaid rent, fees, or other obligations under the rental agreement, such as damages beyond normal wear and tear.

  • Insurance Claims: Landlords are prohibited from filing insurance claims to recover losses associated with unpaid rent, fees, or other obligations until after providing the tenant with the required notice. Specific requirements for documentation and communication with the tenant are outlined in the bill.

  • Offering to All Tenants: If a landlord chooses to offer the fee option to one tenant, they must provide the same opportunity to all new tenants renting a dwelling unit on the same premises, with certain exceptions. Landlords should ensure consistency in offering this option.

  • Discretion and Application Approval: Landlords have exclusive discretion regarding offering tenants the fee option, but they cannot use a tenant's choice to pay the fee as a criterion for approving or denying an application for occupancy


Landlords must familiarize themselves with the complete bill text, understand their obligations, and seek legal advice to comply with the requirements outlined in the bill.




Supporters' Perspective


The rising rental costs in Florida have posed significant challenges for prospective tenants, making it difficult to gather the substantial amount required for security deposits. Proponents of the bill argue that by allowing landlords to offer monthly fees, renters will have greater flexibility in securing rental accommodations without the burden of immediate financial strain. This option could be particularly beneficial for individuals or families who cannot accumulate the necessary funds for a security deposit.



Opponents' Concerns


Critics of the bill have expressed reservations regarding the absence of fee caps for landlords. Without a limit on the monthly fees, opponents worry that some renters could face excessive financial obligations, exacerbating their housing affordability struggles. Furthermore, unlike security deposits, the monthly payments are not intended to be returned to renters and do not function as insurance against damages. Renters may still be held responsible for covering any damages incurred during their tenancy, which could incur additional costs upon moving out.



Understanding the New Lease System


For more info on the new lease system, check out the bill. HB 133 provides specific conditions that landlords must adhere to offer tenants the monthly fee option. Familiarizing oneself with the details of the legislation will allow renters to make informed decisions regarding their rental agreements and understand the rights and responsibilities associated with this alternative payment method.




Conclusion


The recent signing of HB 133 by Governor Ron DeSantis has introduced a new approach to renting in Florida. This legislation enables landlords to offer monthly fees as an alternative to security deposits, giving renters more flexibility in acquiring rental accommodations. While proponents argue that this will alleviate the upfront financial burden on tenants, opponents express concerns about the lack of fee caps and the absence of financial protection for renters. As the law goes into effect on July 1, 2023, it will be crucial for renters and landlords alike to familiarize themselves with the specific provisions outlined in the bill to ensure fair and transparent leasing practices in the state.


Frequently Asked Questions


To address common queries, here are some key FAQs regarding HB 133:

Can landlords still require security deposits?

Yes, landlords can still require security deposits. The bill allows landlords to offer a fee instead of security deposits but does not mandate it.

Are there any restrictions on the fee amount that landlords can charge?

Are there any restrictions on the fee amount that landlords can charge?

Can landlords use a tenant's choice to pay the fee as a basis for approving or denying an application for occupancy?


2 Comments

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Unknown member
Sep 13, 2023

the deposit amount can be increased when renewing the lease due to the rent payment increased?

in my case I been renting for 3 years now , we paid $2000 for deposit and now with the renew the landlord is asking for $750 more she said the deposit must be equal to the rent payment, is this legal?

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Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson
Sep 23, 2023
Replying to

To my knowledge yes. The renewed lease is a new lease and the landlord can ask for a higher deposit.

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