Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix
Saying that “housing is a human right,” U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost of Florida announced legislation in Congress Wednesday to help out struggling renters.
He is co-sponsoring the End Junk Fees for Renters Act, which would crack down on added fees imposed on tenants by landlords, which makes housing less affordable and more difficult to comparison shop.
“I believe that housing is a human right that should be affordable and accessible to everybody, and that nobody should be profiteering off of working people,” Frost said at a news conference in Washington D.C.
Some of the provisions in the bill would:
- Prohibit credit score screening in the rental application process.
- Ban application and screening fees.
- Require late fees apply as credit to next month’s rent.
- Require that landlords disclose in the rental contract any past and present litigation with tenants; ongoing pest and maintenance issues; rent increase percentages over the last 10 years, and the total amount that will be due each month, putting an end to “surprise fees.”
“We’re calling these fees junk fees, because that’s what they are – they’re junk,” Frost said. “When your landlord charges you an extra fee to be able to rent online, that’s a junk fee. When your landlord charges you an extra fee for wanting to recycle your trash, that’s a junk fee. When your landlord charges you extra for calling or texting them, which there are several buildings in the state of Florida that we found out through research, that every time you contact your landlord through email or text or phone call your charged extra money, that is a junk fee.”
The issue is personal to Frost, who made national news shortly after being elected last fall, as he told the nation in a series of tweets how he was struggling to find housing in Washington D.C., one of the most expensive cities (the median monthly rent in D.C. is $2,627, according to Zillow). Frost, of the Orlando area, is the first Gen Z member in Congress.
At the state level, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (HB 1417) last month that eliminated tenant protections enacted by local governments throughout the state.
The law repealed tenant “bill of rights” passed by more than two dozen local governments to give some protections to renters as rent prices continue to rise. GOP lawmakers also passed legislation in the ‘Live Local Act’ that bans any local government from enacting rent-control measures.
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