Background Check Bill Introduced to Protect Florida Renters

Certain industries require mandatory background checks of employees according to law. Florida is looking to add to that list apartment employees. A new bill, if passed, looks to improve safety and security for tenants. On November 12, 2021, Florida Senator Linda Stewart introduced SB 898 in the Florida Senate. Known as “Miya’s Law,” the bill was introduced in response to the tragic case of Miya Marcano.

“Miya’s death is an awful tragedy – one that has put a spotlight on problems with apartment safety and security,” said Senator Stewart. “We’ve heard too many horror stories of some landlords disregarding the security of their tenants by issuing master keys to maintenance workers without running any background checks. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes and we are hopeful that ‘Miya’s Law’ will help make that a reality.”

Bill Defines Employment Requirements

As introduced, SB 898 mandates that landlords require each employee of their apartment establishments to undergo a background check as a condition of employment. Those background checks must:

  • Be performed by a Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) accredited consumer reporting agency, like Verified Credentials;
  • Include a criminal history check;
  • Search sex offender registries from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

According to the bill, landlords may disqualify a person from employment if the person has been convicted or found guilty of, or entered a guilty or nolo contendere plea to, the following offenses:

  • Criminal offenses involving disregard for the safety of others that are felonies or misdemeanors of the first degree in Florida or would be considered felonies or misdemeanors of the first degree in Florida if the offenses were committed in another state.
  • Criminal offenses committed in any jurisdiction which involve violence including, but not limited to, murder, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, and stalking.

Additional Landlord Obligations

In addition to background check requirements, “Miya’s Law” would introduce new safety requirements for landlords. These additional requirements address when and how apartment employees can access tenant units.

Florida state law currently requires apartment employees to provide notice 12 hours before entering a tenant’s home for property repair. If passed, the new law would increase the notice time to 24 hours.

For added tenant safety, the bill includes additional requirements around unit keys. If passed, Landlords will be required to maintain a log accounting for the issuance and return of all keys for each dwelling unit. They must also establish policies and procedures for issuing and returning dwelling unit keys and regulating the storage of and access to unissued keys.

SB 898 is in the early stages of the legislative process and is not yet law. However, the bill has received support from Florida lawmakers and the Florida rental housing industry. Representative Robin Bartleman has filed HB577 in the Florida House, a companion bill to Senator Stewart’s bill in the Senate. The Florida Apartment Association stated, “FAA looks forward to remaining engaged in this effort during the 2022 legislative session and thanks to Senator Stewart and her legislative staff for their hard work on this legislation.”

Employers in Florida may want to follow this bill as it proceeds through the legislative process. Verified Credentials will provide updates as they become available.

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