On March 3, 2021, Hillsborough County approved a Tenant’s Bill of Rights, which became law on March 15, 2021. Tampa landlords and rental property owners throughout Hillsborough County need to familiarize themselves with the new restrictions and regulations that come with this ordinance because penalties for violating any part of it will be implemented beginning July 1, 2021.
Overview of the Tenant’s Bill of Rights
The official title of this local law is: “Tenant’s Bill of Rights Source of Income Anti-Discrimination and Notice of Late Fees Ordinance.”
There are three specific things you will have to do as a landlord that you may not have done previously while renting out a property in Hillsborough County:
- You must provide information to your tenants on their rights, including an overview of the Tenant’s Bill of Rights and where the tenant can go if they feel their rights have been violated. This needs to be provided in both English and Spanish, and you need to give this information to your tenants before they make an application for your property.
- You need to provide written notice to your tenants before you asses a late fee. It’s illegal to charge your tenant a late fee when rent is late without giving them written notice that you’ll be making that charge. The notice must include the justification for the late fee charge and the amount that will be charged to the tenant in addition to rent. You’ll also need to stipulate whether that late fee will continue to accrue until the rent is paid. You must provide this written notice every time you charge a late fee. It’s not enough to put this information in the lease agreement; a notice has to be provided before the late fee is charged.
- You cannot deny an applicant based on source of income. This means that if someone has a housing voucher, such as a Section 8 voucher, you cannot refuse that tenant if he or she is otherwise qualified. If you refuse the application simply because of the tenant’s source of income (in this case a housing voucher), you will be discriminating against that applicant.
Please note we are not attorneys. At Hoffman Realty, we aren’t offering legal advice or even opinions on whether this new law is good or bad. We’re simply sharing the information so you can be educated on what’s required for Hillsborough County landlords.
It’s a Good Time for Tampa Property Management
If this new Tenant’s Bill of Rights makes you nervous, we understand. Any change can feel disruptive.
We can tell you that for well-managed rental properties, not much will change. When you work with a Tampa property manager, you will have an experienced professional taking care of late fee notices and providing any information that prospective tenants need when they’re preparing to apply for and rent a home.
At Hoffman Realty, we also have experience renting homes with Section 8 housing vouchers. As a new landlord to Section-8, it will take a bit of time to get familiar with the program. But once you are up-to-speed not only will you have guaranteed income you will probably find that you have less turnover too. One of our Section 8 tenants we rented to stayed with us for 15 years. We watched her daughter grow up and graduate from high school.
Regardless of your feelings about this new Tenant’s Bill of Rights, it illustrates the importance of protecting yourself and your investment property against liability and risk. Tampa property management can help.
Contact us at Hoffman Realty, and we’ll talk about how to keep you in compliance and successful.