This blog was originally published in Forbes on June 30, 2022.
As of July 1, 2022, residential tenant safety in Florida will be bolstered by a new law requiring background checks for prospective employees. Senate Bill 898, cited as “Miya’s Law,” was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to the death of Miya Marcano, a student killed in her Orlando apartment by a maintenance worker who entered using an apartment key fob.
Miya’s Law requires that landlords utilize the service of a consumer reporting agency, such as a background check vendor, to screen a prospective employee’s criminal history records and sex offender registries of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
A landlord may disqualify a person from employment if the person has been convicted or found guilty of or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any of the following offenses:
- A criminal offense involving disregard for the safety of others which, if committed in Florida, is a felony or a misdemeanor of the first degree or, if committed in another state, would be a felony or a misdemeanor of the first degree if committed in Florida.
- A criminal offense committed in any jurisdiction which involves violence, including, but not limited to, murder, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, and stalking.
Because Miya’s Law requires that landlords request background checks through consumer reporting agencies, landlords must be mindful of their compliance requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates how background checks are requested, reported, and used.
Before requesting a background check, a landlord must provide the prospective employee with a document that consists solely of a disclosure concerning the background check and obtain the candidate’s written authorization for the background check.
When ordering the background check the landlord must certify to the background check vendor that they have and will comply with the FCRA and any applicable laws or regulations and will not use the information reported in violation of any federal or state equal employment opportunity law or regulation.
If information is returned on the background check that may cause the landlord to disqualify the candidate from hire, the landlord must follow the FCRA’s pre-adverse action procedure and provide a notice to the candidate, a copy of their background check, and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The prospective employee must be given a reasonable amount of time, generally, at least five business days, to review the pre-adverse action notice and, if applicable, file a dispute concerning the accuracy or completeness of the information reported with the background check vendor.
If the landlord decides to adversely affect the candidate’s employment, such as withdrawing a job offer, the landlord must send the prospective employee an adverse action notice that includes the name, address, and telephone number of the background check vendor, includes a statement that “the consumer reporting agency did not make the decision to take the adverse action and is unable to provide the applicant the specific reasons why the adverse action was taken,” and notifies the candidate of their right to obtain a free copy of their background report within sixty days and to dispute any information reported in the background check.
In addition to mandating background checks, Miya’s law requires that landlords implement policies and processes to account for the issuance and return of each dwelling unit’s keys. Miya’s law also increases notification requirements for maintenance and repairs from 12 to 24 hours.
“By signing this legislation, we’re making it safer to live in a rental unit and giving renters more peace of mind in their homes,” said DeSantis in a statement. “Miya’s death was a tragedy, and our prayers continue to be with the Marcano family. I am proud to act on their behalf to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening to another Florida tenant.”
Landlords are encouraged to review compliance requirements with their legal counsel, engage background check vendors, and implement processes to comply with Miya’s law in short order.