Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson are sponsoring legislation requiring the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to survey tenants in low-income housing twice a year.
The bill is a response to living conditions at Jacksonville’s Eureka Gardens apartment complex and the Windsor Cove complex in Orlando.
The bipartisan bill would make it harder for property managers to ignore the concerns of tenants by allowing them a direct line to the department, rather than having to rely solely on their landlord to address their concerns.
Like other federally subsidized complexes, Eureka Gardens was recently found to have poorly maintained stairs, gas and water leaks, and pest and mold infestations.
The senators say this happened, in part, because HUD relied too heavily on third-party property inspections.
The legislation would also create new penalties for property owners who repeatedly fail surveys and provide relocation assistance for tenants who suffer from poor living conditions. That monetary assistance is to be paid for from a percentage of the federal government cash a property owner collects.
According to a news release, the bill now heads to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee.