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Collier County commissioners vote down rental ordinance

The proposal would've required landlords to give tenants a 60-day notice if rent was going up more than 5-percent
Posted at 4:26 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 20:41:50-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Commissioners voted down an ordinance that would have required landlords to give tenants a 60-day notice if the rent was going up more than five-percent. The ordinance will be addressed again at the next meeting, though some people are not happy about Tuesday's decision.

Elizabeth Radi with the Collier County Tenant Union says the ordinance would've bought people time to look for a new home, if they had to.

"Passing this ordinance would’ve been a great sign of hope and a restoration of ‘hey, we see what you’re going through. We want to help you,“ Radi explained.

Commissioners, like Andy Solis, did not see it that way.

"In my opinion, that didn't really address the issue of rents being unaffordable, Solia said.

One commissioner mentioned during the meeting how tenants can go up to their landlords about rent increases 120 days before it happens.

"That’s not logical," Radi said. "Fair-market value changes, so therefore your landlord is not going to give you four months advanced notice."

There's one program helping with the housing crisis. Emergency rental assistance is available for people in Collier County. Radi has seen a problem with that.

"There are funds out there, but the applications can be very tedious," she said.

There are $6 million available in emergency rental assistance— money that could go back to the federal government if it's not allocated to people. According to Kristi Sonntag, director of Collier County's Community and Human Services, the spending deadline is Sept. 30, 2022 for the emergency rental assistance program.

Only 500 people have applied and 506 are in the process, though she says they have seen an uptick in applications and expect it to grow monthly.

"What can we do better to get the word out to people?" Radi said.

One idea Solis had was to wrap buses to advertise the program. He also suggested an amendment to the ordinance, requiring landlords to provide information about the rental assistance program. However, some commissioners were not on board with that.

"For a landlord to just put a website at the bottom of a lease renewal or a non-new lease is basically a couple of letters," Radi said.

At this point, it's back to the drawing board for the ordinance and long-term solutions to the housing crisis. When the next meeting comes around, commissioners will discuss the ordinance again, along with marketing for the rental assistance program.

"I don’t know that we have a clear-cut answer at this point," Solis said. "Local governments hands are tied, to some respects. We can’t do a lot of things in terms of rental control."

To apply for rental assistance, click here.