TALLAHASSEE -- Florida legislators are making it easier to evict tenants under a bill now heading to Gov. Rick Scott.
The bill comes at a time when more and more people in the state have become renters due to the foreclosure crisis that has troubled the state for years.
Under the bill a tenant could pay partial rent and still be evicted within days if they fail to turn over the rest of the money. The measure (HB 77) would also allow a landlord to evict a tenant if a person if breaks rules twice in one year. Those rules can include parking in the wrong spot or having an unauthorized pet.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, maintained that the legislation did not include any major changes, but instead was intended to clarify the rights of both tenants and landlords.
"I think it's just much more clear and concise what's expected of both parties," Stargel said.
But Alice Vickers withthe Florida Consumer Action Network sharply disagreed about the impact ofthe bill. She called it the "largest erosion in protections for residential tenants that Florida has seen in many years."
"Though there was no doubt before, it is abundantly clear that Florida is a landlord state," Vickers said.
The Florida House voted 92-25 in favor of the bill on Thursday. The Florida Senate approved it last week by a 27-10 margin.
Stargel, one of the main sponsors of the bill, is an investment property manager. Court records show Stargel has been forced to evict people who rent property she owns.
She has said it's not a conflict of interest because the bill does not apply just to her but to all landlords and tenants.