Tampa City Council enacts 'Tenants Bill of Rights' ordinance in unanimous vote

"This, to me, is just a modicum of dignity when it comes to this issue."

click to enlarge Protesters outside of Tampa City Hall call for rent control. - JUSTIN GARCIA
Justin Garcia
Protesters outside of Tampa City Hall call for rent control.
This afternoon Tampa City Council made the 'Tenants Bill of Rights' ordinance law in a unanimous vote. The ordinance prohibits landlord discrimination against tenants who receive government assistance, among other helpful measures for tenants.

Councilman Luis Viera was the only one who discussed the issue before council voted.

"This, to me, is just a modicum of dignity when it comes to this issue," Viera said. "So I look forward to passing this and I thank everybody for their hard work."

The ordinance calls on Tampa landlords to provide tenants with a notice of their housing rights and a list of tenant assistance resources, should they so need them. And just like a nearly identical resolution Hillsborough County commissioners passed 5-1 last year, the city's bill would have also prohibited landlords from discriminating against renters who use Section 8 vouchers.

The assistance is most often used by low-income families, disabled and elderly people—the most vulnerable of Tampa's residents. The government support is often the barrier between those vulnerable people and homelessness.

Under the ordinance, starting June 1, landlords can be fined if they are found to violate the ordinance. According to city code, a first offense would cost $75 and a second offense would cost $150. The third offense would cost $300. From the fourth offense on, a landlord would be fined $450.
The road to passing the ordinance was turbulent.

In January, council voted 6-1 to move the ordinance past the first reading, with only Charlie Miranda voting against it. Then, on Feb. 3, council flipped during second reading and voted 4-2 against the ordinance, with only councilman Orlando Gudes and Guido Maniscalco voting in favor of the ordinance. But at a council meeting on March 17, they voted unanimously to move it past the first reading.

The vote today comes after rent stabilization and control were shot down by Mayor Jane Castor's administration and city council. The administration and council members initially said that their hands were tied in enacting rent control due to state law. But last week, Castor strayed from that narrative, stating that the measure could 'kill development' in the area.

Meanwhile, over half of Castor's 'Tampa Strong' PAC was funded by development interests

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 


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