What are our 2020 State Legislative Priorities?
Every year, members of the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) make the long trek up to Florida's State Capitol to advocate for the wants and needs of the apartment industry during FAA's annual Legislative Conference.
Now, you may be thinking, "Every year? Don't things get a little, you know, same old, same old?" the answer is no, they don't! The wants, needs, and legislation seeking to impact our industry continue to change. This year, we have four legislative priorities, some of which were unthought of, this time last year. You can learn more about them, below!
#1. Protect & Preserve the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Now, this one may not be a newbie, but that doesn't make it any less important!
The Sadowski Act (1992) created a revenue source financed through a portion of docu-stamp taxes collected on all real estate transactions, intended to be used for the development and renovation of affordable housing. Unfortunately, the fund is not earmarked, meaning, monies in the fund can be used to fill deficiencies in other areas of the state budget.
- This year, we are asking the Legislature to support SB 306 & HB 381, which call for the full funding of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
#2. Clarification of Fire Radio Communication System Requirements
Under current state statute (633.202), local governments have the authority to regulate fire radio communication systems and determine the required signal strength for new and existing buildings within their jurisdiction. Many municipalities are choosing to update their requirements, calling for existing apartment buildings to comply with said requirements by January 1, 2025, as well as obtain appropriate permitting for required communications by December 31, 2022. The problem lies in the ambiguity of the current statute which has led to scenarios where local government A imposes different requirements than local government B.
- This year, we are urging the Legislature to support and pass legislation that provides clarification to Florida state statute that creates consistency among fire communication signal requirements.
#3. Reduce Emotion Support Animal (ESA) Fraude & Abuse
Under current state statute, online providers (in and outside the state) to offer false ESA certification for a flat fee with no verification or knowledge of their patient's current mental health needs. Individuals obtaining this fraudulent documentation for their pet (or pets) use it as proof of eligibility for the waiving of pet fees, or to be allowed to live in a pet-free community.
- This year, we are urging the Legislature to support SB 1084 and CS/HB 209 that would authorize landlords to request certain written documentation and prohibit the falsification of written documentation.
A typical question regarding this legislation is "Would there be any negative impacts on those who have a legitimate need for an ESA?" and the answer is, no, there wouldn't be. This simply creates the requirement for an individual to obtain documentation with a licensed provider in the state of Florida.
#4. Increase Affordable Housing Tax Incentives
In order to break ground on a new apartment community project, most developers must secure financing from investors who expect a specific rate of return on their investment. With an affordable apartment community project, many developers cannot achieve the rate of return investors are looking for in order to secure funding. This leads them to have to rely on a combination of state and federal tax incentives, that come from a finite incentive pool, sought by other developers. This leads to a very limited amount of affordable housing projects receiving government fundings.
- This year, we are urging the Legislature to support legislation that gives counties and municipalities the ability to waive or reduce property taxes for affordable housing units. While we currently do not have a bill number, there is legislation relating to affordable housing incentivization that we are hoping to amend with our bill language.