Florida bill filed to require landlords to disclose flood zone information to renters

Senate Bill 716 filed after Floridians saw homes flooded in hurricanes Ian, Nicole

Florida bill seeks to require landlords to disclose flood zone information to renters

ORLANDO, Fla. – A new bill filed in the Florida Senate is set to get results for renters by requiring landlords to disclose information about flood zones.

Senate Bill 716 was introduced this week by State Sen. Linda Stewart in response to people suffering major losses during both hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

The bill will require current and future renters to be notified if their unit is in a flood zone.

Good Samaritan Society Village resident Diane Barrett said a flood notification would’ve been helpful in her case. She was one of the hundreds of residents affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Ian at the Kissimmee living facility.

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“We would not have moved there if they would have said there was any chance of that happening,” said Barrett, adding she and her husband now have to stay with their two daughters as they attempt to rebuild their lives. “So, there are actually three families living here. We’ve had to start over with clothes, furniture, things that we thought we would never have to buy again, not at this point.”

Some residents returned to Good Samaritan Village in Kissimmee for the first time since evacuating. But not all of them are returning to live in their homes.

Tampa-based attorney Jorge Acosta has been working with some residents from Good Samaritan, saying, “The important thing is not to be caught by surprise.”

Acosta said the new flood bill may affect landlords due to fewer people being interested in their property if it’s in a flood zone or landlords having to provide more accommodations to renters to compensate for being in a flood zone.

“People have to look at that closely and be more considerate of the potential damage that could occur and that has to be factored into whenever someone decides to construct,” Acosta said.

The bill will also require landlords to provide specific information to tenants regarding the property’s inclusion in a flood zone.

Acosta said while the bill itself may hurt landlords, builders or contractors, it offers necessary information for tenants.

“If we don’t (offer that information), we’re just going to continue repeating the whole hurricane issue and water rising everywhere,” he said.

Barrett said she hopes this bill will help get results for tenants like her.

“They need to be held accountable,” Barrett said. “I mean how many people... just lost their place of living, and don’t know where to go?”

At this time, the bill has only been filed and still has to go through the State House and Senate before heading to the governor’s office.

If approved, it would take effect as soon as July.

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A previous version of this story linked Tampa-based attorney Jorge Acosta to Community Legal Services. Jorge O. Acosta does not work at Community Legal Services and has his own law firm in Tampa. Jorge Luis Acosta Palmer is the attorney with Community Legal Services. He also goes by the name Jorge Acosta. Both attorneys have worked with residents of Good Samaritan Village in Osceola County.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.