TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa leaders could soon offer struggling renters across the city a safeguard against discrimination and homelessness.
Tampa City Council will consider instituting a “Tenant’s Bill of Rights.”
Council Chair Orlando Gudes, one of the council members pursuing the legislation, says the legislation is desperately needed as some renters in the city and across Tampa Bay gave an “emergency crisis” as rent prices climb and the region’s availability of affordable housing remains low.
Right now, Gudes says the city’s legal department is putting the finishing touches on the proposal, which could be ready for passage in just a couple of weeks.
If passed, the city’s proposal would be similar to the “Renter’s Bill of Rights” passed by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in March 2021.
Mirroring the county’s measure, the city ordinance would require landlords to provide renters a list of their rights and helpful resources, such as information about available assistance programs.
It would also prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters based on the source of their income, including if some of it comes from government assistance programs like Section 8 vouchers.
“Renters should know their rights. Landlords should know their rights,” said Gudes. “It just gives a sense of security of how people should be treated. Rules and regulations — making sure people are not being taken advantage of.”
Under the ordinance, landlords who violate the anti-discrimination clause could face a fine of $450.
In early December, concerned the city’s proposal might not work exactly as intended, the chair of Hillsborough County Commission wrote Tampa City Council urging the council to revisit some of the language in the ordinance “to ensure that the City and the County can join together in providing robust protection against source of income discrimination in rental housing.”
As a result, Gudes says the city is currently revising some of the plan to make sure it more closely mirrors the protections already offered to renters outside city limits in Hillsborough County.
He hopes Tampa City Council will discuss and ultimately pass the “Tenant’s Bill of Rights” in early January.