ST. PETERSBURG — Landlords who plan on increasing rent more than 5% must give written, advance notice to the tenant or face a fine, according to a new city ordinance.
The City Council unanimously voted Thursday on the new rule. Landlords must give 60 days’ notice for leases one year or longer, 30 days’ notice for three months to a year, or 21 days’ notice for a month-to-month lease. If not, they could be fined $300 for the first offense and $500 for any subsequent offenses.
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1.
“This ordinance will create a more level playing field for landlords and tenants by providing reasonable notice for rent increases,” said council chairperson Gina Driscoll, who sponsored the ordinance. “With the spikes in rent we’re seeing right now, we can’t change that, but we can make it a little fairer to those who can find ways to make ends meet.”
The St. Petersburg Tenants Union says the ordinance is significantly weaker than the six-month notice requirement they had asked for. In an email Thursday, they said they do not support the ordinance as currently written.
“The decision to reduce the noticing requirement was not done in the best interests of tenants, but for those of landlords,” said organizer William Kilgore in a statement. “By curtailing the noticing requirement, the city is failing to send a message to landlords that rent gouging is unacceptable in the Sunshine City.”
In August, the Pinellas County Commission passed a tenants bill of rights countywide, unless municipalities opt out, to require landlords to provide notice of rent increases and late fees and prohibit them from discriminating against renters with housing vouchers. Tampa passed a similar measure in February.