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Corona Virus Update:

Our business is ESSENTIAL! Out of this unfortunate situation I have never seen my team so productive and willing to go over and beyond to take care of our owners and our tenants. Having a digital and mobile based system has allowed us to help tenants in need for maintenance. We have been exponential in creating DOOR TO DOOR services, rent modifications, positively coordinating cancelation policies for people in need, and keeping up with the DEMAND for rental PROPERTY that we are still facing at this very moment.. We are in the process of completing multiple movin’s and move outs with a few that are literally turning over properties in less then 24 hours. The phones are still ringing! People are still renting and wanting to move forward quickly. Our industry is still ALIVE! What is the most important ESSENTIAL that people need right now? THEIR HOMES! We are here and plan on continuing to give SOLUTIONS to our customers NEEDS. We will always continue to remain positive and create new routes to overcome obstacles that we become faced with.

Sincerely Your Solutions Family.

Session Ends and Long Awaited ESA Bill Passes!

Before we jump into the outcome of Florida’s 2020 Legislative Session, it is very important to note that the CDC has stated that gatherings of 50 or more people should be postponed for the next eight weeks. Bars, clubs, theaters and other places of public accommodation throughout the Sunshine State are being closed or their capacity and hours are being dramatically reduced. While these drastic government measures should inform your board’s decision to cancel or postpone meetings in your community, we would urge you to speak with association counsel prior to canceling or postponing your meetings.

Florida’s 2020 Regular Session ended last Friday, March 13, however, our lawmakers did not reach an agreement on the proposed $92 billion state budget. The budget is the only piece of legislation which legislators are required to pass each year no later than June 30. This means that Florida’s legislators will have to reconvene to pass the budget. Given the heightened concerns regarding COVID-19, some legislators have suggested the use of electronic voting to pass the budget.

We will be addressing the major bills impacting our CALL members in a series of separate alerts since there is a lot to discuss on each bill. In the first of the series, we are delighted to announce that SB 1084, the bill which takes the first step to rein in emotional support animal abuse, passed! We thank our HonestESA members who helped make this happen. The effective date of the bill is July 1, 2020.

This new law provides for the following:

  • Amends Section 817.265 of the Florida Statutes. A person who falsifies information or written documentation or who knowingly provides fraudulent information or written documentation to obtain an emotional support animal (ESA) or otherwise knowingly and willfully misrepresents himself or herself as having a disability or a disability related need for an ESA commits a misdemeanor of the second degree as punishable under Chapter 775 of the Florida Statutes. In addition, a person convicted under this new law must also perform thirty (30) hours of community service for an organization that serves persons with disabilities or such other organization that the court determines is appropriate.
  • Amends Section 456.072 of the Florida Statues. A health professional who provides information, including written documentation, indicating that a person has a disability or which documentation supports a person’s need for an ESA without personal knowledge of the person’s disability is subject to disciplinary action.
  • Amends Section 760.27 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Defines an ESA as “an animal that does not require training to do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, or provide therapeutic emotional support by virtue of its presence which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”
  • Allows associations to deny a reasonable accommodation request for an ESA if the animal being requested poses a “direct threat to the safety or health of others or poses a direct threat of physical damage to the property of others which threat cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.”
  • Allows associations to request supporting information for the ESA if a person’s disability is not readily apparent.
  • Clarifies that information which may support an ESA request may include: a determination of disability from any federal, state, or local government agency; receipt of disability benefits or services form any federal, state, or local government agency; proof of eligibility for housing assistance or a housing voucher received because of a disability; information from a health care practitioner (456.001, F.S.), a tele-health provider (456.47, F.S.) or any similarly licensed or certified practitioner or provider in good standing with his or her profession’s regulatory body in another state BUT only if such out-of-state practitioner has provided in-person care or services to the person on at least one occasion.
  • The practitioner or provider of the supporting information must have personal knowledge of the person’s disability and must be acting within the scope of his or her practice.
  • If a person requests more than one ESA, he or she must provide supporting information for each animal.
  • The association may require proof that each ESA is properly licensed and vaccinated.
  • The association may not require persons requesting an ESA to use a specific form and may not deny a request solely because a person did not follow the association’s routine method for providing supporting information.
  • An ESA registration of any kind including an ID card, patch, vest, certificate, etc. is not by itself sufficient information to reliably establish that a person has a disability or a disability-related need for an ESA.
  • Persons with ESAs are liable for any damage done to the premises or to another person by the ESA.

Senate Bill 1128 and House Bill 1011 seek to amend several Florida statutes addressing vacation rentals

It’s not the first time a bill regulating vacation rentals has been proposed by the Legislature, and it’s likely not the last. On the heels of last session’s failed Senate Bill 824 comes Senate Bill 1128 and the companion House Bill 1011, both of which again seek to preempt the regulation of vacation rentals to the state by prohibiting local laws and ordinances on short-term vacation rentals.  Announced today, HB 1011 is up for vote in the Government Operations subcommittee on February 4, 2020.

Often facilitated on internet platforms such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owners (“VRBO”), the online platforms that help people rent homes for short stays are ubiquitous. Some communities encourage the opportunity for rental income. For many others, however, short-term rentals have become a persistent problem, with the impacts felt in a number of ways: the nuisance of a constant turnover of renters; noise complaints; damage to the common areas, and a general discomfort of strangers coming in and out of the community. As indicated by CALL’s recent Airbnb Survey, 89% of respondents wish to regulate or prohibit these sort of rentals in their communities. CLICK HERE to read the results from this survey. Many community associations do just that by including provisions in their governing documents which either prohibit short-term rentals or include minimum lease terms. However, if this year’s set of bills are successful, the authority to impose such restrictions may come into question.

Senate Bill 1128 and House Bill 1011 seek to amend several Florida statutes addressing vacation rentals by giving the power of regulation, licensing and enforcement to the state rather than individual municipalities or other local entities. The argument set forth by the bill sponsors, Senator Manny Diaz (Miami Dade County) and Representative Jason Fischer (Duval County) is that there is a constitutionally protected property right for owners who choose to use their property as vacation rentals, and regulation of such should therefore be preempted to the state. On this basis, the bills prohibit a local law, ordinance or regulation from banning rentals or regulating the duration or frequency of rentals, and also possibly invalidate any regulations passed since June of 2011. The bills also specifically define “advertising platform” and require that the operator of a vacation rental must display a license and sales tax registration information when posting on these platforms.

Fortunately, the current text includes an exemption for community associations. This means that while the proposed law would prohibit local governments from passing restrictions on short-term rentals, private residential communities could still restrict rentals, through minimum lease terms or other provisions. The precise language included in the text is as follows:

“The Legislature does not intend for the application of this act to supersede any current or future declaration or declaration of condominium adopted pursuant to chapter 718, Florida Statutes, cooperative documents adopted pursuant to chapter 719, Florida Statutes, or declaration of covenants or declaration adopted pursuant to chapter 720, Florida Statutes.”

Note that the bills specifically address “declarations,” but do not include the more broad term “governing documents” which means it arguably could exclude restrictions in the bylaws or rules and regulations of a community. Note too, that it is possible this carve-out exempting community associations could be removed from the law during the committee amendment procedure. For this reason, it is imperative that our CALL members remain vigilant in monitoring the bills as they progress throughout this legislative session. Thus far, SB 1128 has been debated and approved by the Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee by a vote of 8-2, and the next stop is the Commerce and Tourism Committee.  Meanwhile, HB 1011 was approved by the Workforce Development & Tourism Committee on January 21, 2020 by a vote of 10-5, with the next stop scheduled for Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee.

If the language quoted above is removed or revised, then the tools so many communities rely on to stop the proliferation of vacation rentals, i.e., a provision in the governing document that limits or prohibits rentals, would be lost. To this end, the CALL team is preparing letters to the sponsors of the bills addressing these concerns. We always welcome the input of our CALL Members, so please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions and we will include your feedback in our communications with the legislators.

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane season is upon us and we want you to be prepared. Please take a moment to explore the following resources and we highly recommend downloading and printing the guides we have provided. We want all of our residents to be safe and that begins with being prepared BEFORE the storm. As always, should you have questions, we are here to answer any questions you may have.

Weather Channel

Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist

NOAA.GOV Hurricane Preparedness – Be Ready Guide

FEMA How to Prepare for a Hurricane (Download)

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

2019 Plan your evacuation route from Brevard County

Here’s where you can get sandbags in Central Florida

Preparing Your Pool for a Hurricane
How to Prepare Your Pool or a Storm

Before the Storm:
Don’t Drain the Pool
When extended rains raise the water table, hydrostatic pressure will build to a point where it can push on the pool and pop it out of the ground or push a vinyl liner off the floor. When the ground becomes saturated, pool decks or home foundations can slip and move. The weight of the water in the pool will help to hold the pool in place, as underground water levels build.

You should shut off the pool pump as a hurricane approaches and gas pool heaters should have the gas supply shut off at the heater.  Shut off the filter pump at the breaker and the gas supply at the meter. 

Secure all items out in the pool area. Toys, skimmer lids, pool poles – all need to come inside. Bring in everything that is not bolted down and could become a flying projectile.   Do not throw it in the pool as some have suggested because anything with any metal parts (even small screws) will cause staining to your pool very quickly.

After the Storm: As you know with these storms typically come heavy rains which can cause the following:

1. Lots of rain makes the water table rise, so you absolutely do not want to drain your swimming pool. The extreme pressure caused by additional groundwater will most likely cause a partially empty or completely empty swimming pool to come out of the ground.

2. Your water chemistry will be unbalanced. Blue Orca Pools will perform the necessary steps required to get your pool back into tip-top shape.

How long will Brevard County wait until rising rental costs become a crisis?

“Affordable housing crisis” might sound like a San Francisco or New York City problem, not something Brevard County —  the kind of place where you don’t have to be a millionaire to live near the beach — has to worry about. 

Perhaps for those of us earning enough or long-time homeowners, it isn’t. But, as FLORIDA TODAY’s Bailey Gallion reported this week, Brevard’s low-income families are struggling to keep up with rising rents and some are losing their place to live.

That’s a side effect of our prosperity as we welcome high-income residents who are driving up prices.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Nonprofits and advocates for the homeless have been sounding the alarm for years, with stories of families living out of their cars or couch surfing after suddenly being displaced by skyrocketing rents. 

There are several efforts, led mainly by nonprofits, to increase affordable housing, including a taskforce made up of local leaders and new units being built south of U.S. Route 192 by nonprofit Carrfour Supportive Housing.

But the same level of attention isn’t coming from our County Commission and local governments as has been dedicated, rightfully so, for the Indian River Lagoon.

In fact, the county is phasing out funding for nonprofits, including those that help homeless families find housing such as Family Promise of Brevard. The organization has seen a 58% increase in the number of calls of people struggling to afford rent since last year.

Between 2017 and 2018, rent values went up by 15% in the county, an unprecedented increase, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2019, the fair market rent value for a two-bedroom unit went down $18 to $1,000 per month. 

As of 2016, Brevard needed 11,500 housing units for the working poor, according to a study by the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies. Get the Florida Voices newsletter in your inbox.

Florida Voices tells the stories of everyday Floridians, examining what issues matter most to them in the Sunshine State.Delivery: FriYour Email

We should look at what’s happening next door to us as a warning sign. The Orlando metro area had the nation’s worst housing shortage this year for people earning up to $24,600, beating cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Houston, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

We shouldn’t act surprised when more displaced Orlando renters move to our area only to make our housing problems worse. 

Volunteers deliver care packages and beanies to homeless camps in Palm Bay.

Volunteers deliver care packages and beanies to homeless camps in Palm Bay. (Photo: Provided)

Here’s a low-hanging fruit Brevard could tackle: Nonprofit developers want to build cheap housing but cannot find land that’s large enough or zoned as multi-family, according to Gallion’s reporting.

Fixing this issue is not rocket science, but it does require will power.

We have shown with the Indian River Lagoon that we can work together to solve some of our direst problems. Yet the people affected by rising rental costs aren’t waterfront homeowners, boaters, local leaders or the primary voters who decide elections on the Space Coast. 

Helping the working poor is often viewed in our county as “socialism” or handouts. That fails to recognize we all pay when people end up homeless. A 2016 Leadership Brevard project estimated homelessness costs the county nearly $28 million a year in incarceration, prosecution, education, law enforcement and mostly health-care costs. 

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s begin by looking at what other communities are doing:

  • San Diego allows developers to build at higher density if a number of units are reserved for low-income tenants, according to Forbes magazine.
  • Atlanta allows developers to apply for tax abatements from the city for up to 10 years if they can prove their project wouldn’t be feasible without government funding, and if at least 20% of units are reserved for people earning up to 60% of the area’s median income, Forbes reported.

I want to be fair to the Space Coast. The Legislature has made it harder for local communities to address this problem.

In the early 1990s, the Legislature passed the Sadowski Act. The law increased real estate transaction taxes and dedicated that extra revenue to an affordable housing trust fund. However, for the last decade, lawmakers have raided those funds to pay for other expenses in the state budget.

More than $2 billion statewide have been diverted that could have been distributed across the state to build more housing, help homeowners with down payments and to assist low-income households. 

Brevard has lost more than $25 million since 2013, according to data provided by the county.

Sen. Debbie Mayfield of Melbourne filed a bill that died this year to stop the Legislature from raiding the Sadowski fund. Orlando Rep. Rene Plasencia, who represents northern Brevard, was a co-sponsor of the House version. Both are Republicans, proof that affordable housing isn’t just a liberal concern. 

Even Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recommended the Sadowski fund be completely funded, but signed into law a state budget that diverted money from the fund, albeit less than in previous years. 

The Space Coast can hope Tallahassee comes to our rescue in the next legislative session. Or we can be proactive. 

Which one is it going to be?

Outstanding 3/2 Rental Near FIT

309 Rutgers Ave, Melbourne, FL 32901 | Offered at $1,300/month

Adorable Cottage like home located near Florida Institute of Technology. Spacious three bedroom two bath home with an open floor plan. Kitchen island overlooks main living area. Oversized shed for tenant use, and fenced in yard. Washer And Dryer on site for tenant use. Come see before its gone!

Directions: S Babcock to west on University Blvd to south on Vassar to Rutgers

nterior Features: Living/Dining Combo; Open Floor PlanExterior Features: FenceUtilities: City Water; Electric; Sewer Cooling: Electric Heat: Electric Water Heater: ElectricEquipment/Appliances: Dryer; Range – Electric; Refrigerator; Washer
Construction:Concrete BlockExterior Finish:StuccoRoof:Shingle – WoodFloor:TileLot Description:Lot – CityPool Features:Dwelling View:Security/Safety:Water Amenities:Elementary School:University ParkMiddle School:StoneHigh School:MelbourneMaster BD/BT:ShowerRooms:Possession:Subject to LeaseShowing:Use CSS SchedulerTo Be Constructed:Meas. From:Tax Rolls55+ Community:NoGated Community:Pet Restrictions:Other – Call AgentRestrictions:Smoking not Permitd

Renters Insurance

Protect your valuables with fast, easy coverage

Roost Renters Insurance offers protection and replacement of your valuables in the event that they are damaged or stolen. That means your items are covered whether they’re at home or anywhere else!

Why Roost Renters Insurance

Did you know that between furniture, electronics, clothing, appliances, and more, the average renter can own roughly $30k worth of personal belongings? While your property manager may have insurance, he or she is not responsible for any of your own items. With renters insurance, you’ll receive protection and replacement for your damaged or stolen belongings (no matter where they are!). That means you can rest easy knowing your valuables are covered. It’s highly recommended that renters consider this type of insurance – and have a policy in place – before it’s needed.

https://www.roostrentersinsurance.com/

10 DIYs to Make Your Rental Feel Like Home Sweet Home

My DIY Pinterest board is pretty much exploding at the seams. I collect DIY project ideas like they’re stamps. But when you’re a renter, you need to pick and choose your DIYs very carefully, because many projects won’t work with the restrictions of your lease. I’ve rounded up my 10 favorite no-fuss DIY projects for renters and I promise, your security deposit will be safe with all of them.

1: Monogram Doormat

DIY Monogramed Doormat

This is a super easy project that will help set the stage for the design in your home. It’s a great way to stand out, especially if you live in a larger apartment building with identical front doors. Go with black if you want a more neutral look, or amp it up by using a brightly colored paint for your initial.

Make It: Monogram Doormat

2: Fabric Backsplash

DIY Acrylic and Fabric Kitchen Backsplash

When it comes to rental kitchens, you’re often limited with changes you can make. But this is an awesome DIY project that will allow you to completely alter the look of your space without doing any damage to the walls. Measure your space, choose a fabric you love and follow this DIY to create a showstopping backsplash. When it’s time to move out, simply take it down.

Make It: Fabric Backsplash

3: Radiator Cover/Shelf

DIY Radiator Cover With Shelving

Miss Mustard Seed

If you live in a rental with a radiator, consider this project that helps you cover up the radiator while also adding some additional shelving. Even if you don’t have room for shelves, a cover can serve double duty by hiding the radiator and providing some additional space to store books, plants or artwork.

Make It: Radiator Cover

4: Wallpapered Fridge

Bethany Nauert

Sometimes an out-of-date refrigerator can really be an eyesore in a rental kitchen. Replacing the fridge is not an option for most, but all hope is not lost. You can jazz up your refrigerator by covering it with removable wallpaper.

This project is actually a lot easier than you think, and it can really add an element of fun to a tired space. This wallpaper is easy to remove, so when it’s time to move out you simply peel it off and go.

Make It: Wallpaper Your Fridge

5: Custom Pipe Shelving

Modern, Rustic Shelving

Renters are often stuck with little-to-no storage. Built-in shelving is a luxury that homeowners get to enjoy, but your options are much more limited in an apartment. Here’s a nice in-between solution that will still provide you with additional storage but won’t do too much damage to your walls: custom pipe shelving.

While this project will require you to make some holes in the walls, they’re very easy to fill-in with spackle before you move out.

Make It: Pipe Shelving

6: Slatted Door Storage

Slatted Door Kitchen Storage

Jamie Dorobek, C.R.A.F.T

Here’s a fun solution that makes use of those bi-fold doors that so many of us find in rental homes. It’s a storage system that makes use of many standard organizing pieces (like a magnetic knife strip) but allows you to mount them on a slatted door. You can really get creative and set this up in a way that works best for you and your baking needs.

Make It: Slatted Door Storage

7: Stovetop Cutting Board/Counter

Small-Space Hacks: Stovetop Counter

Sara Swezy, Studio Style Blog

For anyone in a tiny kitchen, you know all about the lack of counter space. It’s something that so many renters struggle with. Adding a cart as a “faux” kitchen island is a great solution, but sometimes you don’t even have room for that. Here’s an ingenious project that helps you create a good chunk of additional counter space using only the surface area on top of your stove. You can choose to create this cutting board out of material similar to your countertops, or go for some contrast and choose something that stands out a bit. When you need to use your stovetop, simply pop it off and store it until you’re done.

Make It: Stovetop Cutting Board

8: Towel Ladder

Stylish Bathroom Features Ladder Towel Storage

Sarah Hebenstreit / Modern Kids Co.

Towels are chunky and unwieldy, and sometimes you might find that you barely have room for them in a tiny bathroom. Towel racks are great, but you might just have one and need some additional space for keeping bath and hand towels handy. This pipe towel ladder DIY could be the answer to all of your tiny bathroom towel storage needs. The great thing is, you can make it exactly as wide and as high as you have space for.

Make It: Copper Pipe Ladder

9: Pendant Light

Original_Marianne-Canada-Geometric-Light-Pendant_v

While lighting can sometimes be a bit trickier for a renter, you can actually switch things up in your apartment without doing any real damage or putting your security deposit in jeopardy.

The key to switching out lights is making sure you have some space to store the original ones. You also want to avoid making any additional holes in the ceiling and only using whatever holes or openings are already there. If you can meet those criteria, I say switch out your lighting! This DIY pendant is an inexpensive way to quickly up your lighting game and completely change the look of your space.

Make It: Pendant Light

10: Slipcovered Ottoman Storage

Neutral Transitional Living Room With Graphic Ottomans

Jonathan Rachman

Not to sound like a broken record with this whole storage issue, but it really is the #1 challenge of most renters. Which is why I absolutely love this ingenious project.

You can take a simple utility bucket and turn it into a gorgeous, upholstered ottoman. No one will even know that there is storage inside this gem (or a bucket for that matter!).