Posted: August 03, 2022
Having taken effect on July 1, 2022, Senate Bill 898, also referred to as “Miya’s Law” was signed into law by Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis. While there have long been laws in place that dictate tenant screening, Senate Bill 898 focuses on the screening of perspective employees of apartment buildings. Obviously, this new law impacts real estate investors, tenants, and people who apply to work at apartment complexes. No matter which of those categories you fall under, it’s a good idea to have a better understanding of “Miya’s Law” and what it means for you.
The What, When, and Why Of “Miya’s Law”
Miya’s Law got its name from Miya Marcano, a student who was brutally murdered in her Orlando apartment. Ms. Marcano’s murder was committed by a maintenance worker at the apartment complex who used a key fob to enter her apartment. Marcano was reported missing on September 24, 2021 when she didn’t catch a flight home to south Florida. Her body was found at 10:45 AM the next morning around a nearby apartment complex.
Florida lawmakers quickly sprang into action in an effort to make it more difficult for such crimes to be committed in the future. Governor DeSantis officially signed the bill into law on July 1, 2022.
Referred to as “Miya’s Law,” Senate Bill 898 puts measures in place that require landlords and property managers to do thorough background checks on any potential apartment complex employees. Under Senate Bill 898, property managers are required to utilize the service of a consumer reporting agency such as a background check vendor to screen a potential employee’s criminal background and status as a sex offender. Property Managers are required to use a national database, which means they will be able to gather information about crimes committed by a potential employee in any of the 50 states as well as Washington D.C.
According to the law, property managers have the right to disqualify a potential employee if the applicant has been found guilty, convicted, or entered a plea of guilty to any of the following offenses:
- A criminal offense that involves the disregard for the safety of others which, if committed in Florida, is a felony or misdemeanor in the first degree.
- A criminal offense committed in any jurisdiction which involves violence, including but not limited to, murder, sexual battery, carjacking, home invasions, stalking, and robbery.
Who Does This New Law Apply To?
While this new law obviously makes things safer for tenants, it primarily impacts property managers and potential employees of apartment complexes in Florida. Property managers are now required to perform these background checks on anyone who will be employed at their complexes. Employees, even those who will be working as independent contractors, will undergo these background checks. That means that any crimes committed in another jurisdiction could disqualify an applicant from being hired.
What Do I Need to Do to Follow This Law?
As a hiring manager, there are some steps you will need to take to follow this law. First of all, you are required to give any potential applicants paperwork that covers the disclosure of any criminal activity from the past. These forms also give the property managers permission to conduct these searches. As a property manager, you will also be required to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, which covers how background checks are requested, reported, and used by employers, landlords, or others in authority.
Finally, property managers are required to give the applicant a copy of the background check if any information is discovered that precludes them from employment. The applicant has the right to dispute the findings, and the hiring manager must provide written notice of the job offer being rescinded.
As always, following the law is the most important aspect of being a successful real estate investor. This new law, aimed at protecting tenants, is a great step that better protects your tenants and your investment.