Residential landlords in Miami-Dade County are now required to provide tenants with at least 60 days’ notice of rent hikes of 5 percent or more, as renting becomes increasingly more expensive in South Florida.
The ordinance, introduced by Commissioner Eileen Higgins, passed unanimously at Tuesday’s commission meeting. Commissioners said property owners have in some cases raised rents by 50 percent or more. It follows similar ordinances in Miami Beach and Hialeah and is countywide.
“Thank you all for your understanding about how fair notice is the right thing to do, but not all landlords are doing the right thing. So, this requires them, if their mothers didn’t teach them to do the right thing,” Higgins said. “I guess the Board of County Commissioners can help with that.”
The ordinance applies to tenants at the end of their leases and in month-to-month leases, who face rent increases of more than 5 percent.
It also extends the required notice time for eviction to 60 days from 30 days for month-to-month tenancies, a spokesperson for the commissioner said.
If at the end of a longer lease, such as a 12-month lease, a tenant stays on a month-to-month basis, this new rule would apply.
Yet, experts say landlords can skirt the ordinance.
Commissioner Keon Hardemon pointed out that landlords could instead offer weekly leases to bypass the legislation, and board chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz asked the county attorney what penalties exist for landlords who break the rules.
The Miami-Dade ordinance can only be enforced in court, as a legal defense to eviction, the county attorney said. It would give renters more time to find new housing if their landlords do not provide sufficient notice.
The housing market in South Florida has become out of reach for many. Property owners, faced with high demand and little to no vacancies, have taken advantage of the market and jacked up rents, and in many cases sold their properties at high prices in record numbers.
At the same time, home and condo prices have soared as buyers have taken advantage of low interest rates, and many new-to-market buyers flooded the region, also pushing prices up further.
As a result, Miami became the least affordable housing market in the country earlier this year, according to a RealtyHop report released last month. A household in the city of Miami would have to contribute 78.7 percent of its income toward homeownership costs, which is based on a median home price of $589,000 and a projected median household income of $43,401.
Attorney David Winker, who represents both tenants and landlords, acknowledged the need for tenant protections, but said that this puts the onus on tenants to use it as a legal defense in a court system that was flooded during the pandemic.
“Our renters are being brutalized right now,” he said. “We’ve got to give people time to find a new place to live.”
Winker’s previous clients included the former tenants of the Hamilton on the Bay in Miami. Last year, property owner Aimco, an apartment real estate investment trust, canceled the leases of its tenants as it embarked on major renovations to the property. Tenants were paying below market rent for units that had not been updated in years. Now, the penthouses at the Hamilton are asking about $21,000 a month, and most units are asking more than $4,000 a month, according to its website.
“Landlords see the money, and they have to get rid of tenants. I’m worried it’s going to impact more the mom-and-pop landlords than the national companies,” Winker said. “In reviewing the legislation, there are definitely ways around it. Through private contract, you can avoid this.”