ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Senator Darryl Rouson of District-19 introduced two bills he is hoping will help those struggling to pay their rent. 

What You Need To Know

  • Sen. Darryl Rouson has introduced two bills to help with those facing eviction

  • SN Bill 412 deals with residents and landlords

  • Another bill introduced will protect tenants' records if they are evicted during the pandemic

Rouson said the need for the legislation is dire.

“There are over 50,000 evictions filed state wide in the state of Florida right now and we need to be cognizant of that,” he said.

The first bill, SN Bill 412, deals with residents and their landlords.

“The idea is to encourage the parties, the landlord and the tenant to work this out short of the drastic remedy of kicking someone out of their shelter.” Rouson said. “We don’t need more people put out on the street during a pandemic.”

The second bill would protect tenants’ records that are evicted during the pandemic, despite the moratorium in place.

“We allow sealing of records and expunging of records during criminal offenses, if someone is evicted during this pandemic, related to the pandemic, loss of job, loss of income, those kinds of things, then they should not be held to have this eviction on their record forever,” Rouson added.

“The landlord should not be able to consider as a negative mark on their rental history the fact that they were evicted during a pandemic.”

Last year, Spectrum Bay News 9 informed you about a number of residents complaining of unlivable conditions at their affordable housing apartments. Robin Lockett with the organization, Florida Rising, has been meeting with tenants facing eviction and living in deplorable conditions. 

“We knew that people were getting kicked out because of the pandemic so because of Covid a lot of stuff has been confirmed in regards to living conditions, food deserts, lack of affordable housing and health,” Lockett said.

Loretta White was among a number of residents with complaints of things like broken windows, rodents and mold and then add to that a pandemic. She said she’s now facing eviction and struggling to find other options for affordable housing.

The company, Tzadik Properties, which manages Palm Court, where White lives sent this statement:

“Tzadik Properties is continuing to work with residents and offer them ample opportunities for payment arrangements. The company is still working with renters who are willing to speak with property management and offer 50% off all balances that have more than one month’s rent in arrears in exchange for them paying the other half. Tzadik is also continuing to extended concessions to prevent evictions to residents at its properties throughout Florida.

The balcony issues are now 80 percent completed and all plumbing issues have been resolved. With Loretta’s situation, all previous matters were addressed, but she was not informing the office of her recent issues, so we were not aware of them. If residents are having any issues, they should contact the office directly and submit a work order. All work orders are fulfilled or addressed within 24-48 hours. We address work orders daily.”

For renters who made other claims about unlivable conditions, Rouson said he plans to address that with legislation too.

“I’m looking at legislation that would punish landlords from accepting rent when they’re not providing adequate housing for tenants and we’re studying that right now,” he said.