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Through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website and many other websites maintained by municipalities, it is possible for anyone to look up a person to see if they are a registered predator or offender and see the exact address of that person.
Megan's Law was named after 7-year old Megan Kanka, who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a convicted sexual predator; the law was created to have a system in place under which people could be notified of the presence of such a person in their community.
Florida Law--Florida Law does not require a private person such as a landlord to inquire as to whether someone is a sexual predator or offender, does not prohibit renting to one, and creates no requirement for the landlord to notify the community or immediate neighbors if they do in fact rent to a registered sexual offender or predator.
While Florida law imposes restrictions on where a sexual predator or offender can live, there in no duty or obligation on a Florida landlord to inquire about the sexual predator or offender status of a person, or prohibit them from renting where he or she would be in violation of Florida law.
Megan's law as it applies to Florida only requires law enforcement to set up some sort of notification system to help a community know of the presence of an offender or predator in their neighborhood. The FDLE website is such a step in this direction. There are other laws that apply to the registered sexual predator or offender which prohibit them from living within a certain number of feet from places like schools, designated public school bus stops, day care centers, parks, beach playgrounds, libraries, churches or other places where children regularly congregate, but until now, this was not the concern of the Florida landlord.
New Ordinances as they apply to the Registered Sexual Offender, Predator and the property owners Registered Sexual Offenders and Predators--Certain Florida municipalities, such as Ormond Beach, and Florida counties, such as Seminole County, are creating and have enacted ordinances which are further restricting where registered sexual predators or offender may reside, AND in the case of Seminole County, imposing criminal penalties on landlords if they rent to such a person in violation of the ordinances.
The City of Ormond Beach will most likely soon pass an ordinance which prohibits any sexual predator or offender who has committed an illegal act of a sexual nature on a person less than the age of 16 years to establish a permanent residence within feet of a school, designated public school bus stop, day care center, park, beach playground, library, church or other place where children regularly congregate.
The feet is measured from the outer limits of the residence to the nearest outer property line of the prohibited area "as the crow flies. Repeat offenders of the ordinance will suffer substantially greater penalties. The property owner can actually now go to jail for renting to a sexual predator or offender.
Exceptions to the ordinances--There are some limited exceptions to these ordinances. In Ormond Beach for example, if a sexual predator or offender was currently living within the foot buffer zone prior to the enactment of the ordinance, there will be no violation of the ordinance, or if a school, designated public school bus stop, day care center, park, beach playground, library, church or other place where children regularly congregate is placed into service after the person has moved in, there is no violation.
Once the lease expires though, the sexual predator and the owner will be in violation of the ordinance, if the tenant does not move. What does this means to the property owner? If this is the case, it is highly recommend that the owner immediately examine the lease or the tenancy to see how soon a Notice of Non-Renewal can be given, and this Notice of Non-Renewal should be given in accordance with the terms of the lease and Florida law, plus be sent by certified mail, regular mail and by hand delivery or posting on the premises, to cover all bases.
Many tenants served with a Notice of Non- Renewal deny receiving the notice, and this can complicate or prevent an eviction from occurring successfully if the tenant fails to vacate per the notice.
Practical Considerations--Every owner and property manager needs to be diligent in conducting criminal background checks on all applicants. There are many excellent companies which provide these checks at a very reasonable cost.
We recommend using a Florida company, as they may have more up to date access to the court records. Even after you receive the background history, it is imperative that you check the FDLE website and make a written notation when you checked the website, the exact name you checked as provided by you from the applicant, and the steps you took to verify the information.
The FDLE website has photographs of the registrants to assist you in verifying who you are dealing with, as many people have similar names.
A registered sexual predator or offender will do whatever it takes to get housing, as they probably have been denied on numerous occasions and will often change the spelling of their name or fill out the application illegibly to make your search more difficult.
Check with your local municipality, sheriff's department and police station if you are unsure where your property is located in relation to a school, designated public school bus stop, day care center, park, beach playground, library, church or other place where children regularly congregate.
If a property manager places a registered sexual offender or predator within this area and the property owner gets in trouble, be sure that you will not be the next to get in trouble. Remember, feet is almost one half mile, so the chances are very high that your property could fall within the danger zone.
The tenant writes you a letter disputing the charges and calling you every name in the book. You write a letter back explaining your charges and tell the tenant that if they don't pay, you are going to send the account to collections, and it will affect their credit.
You just violated the Florida Consumer Collections Law. This is serious business, and attorneys are out there just waiting for you to violate the law.
When you send a file to a collection agency, the agency must follow these laws or they and you could be subject to penalties if the FDCPA is violated.
The purpose of the FDCPA was to create laws to curb abuses by debt collectors who sometimes threaten and harass debtors. As you can see, the FDCPA governs debt collectors, but what if you are collecting a debt that is due to you?
This would be the landlord or the property manager. This article will examine only one specific section of the Florida Consumer Collection Law and how it applies to the owner or property manager.
Security Deposit Disputes-- After a tenant vacates the premises, the landlord is required to send the tenant the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit according to Florida Statutes Few things are as obnoxious as an out-of-tune Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB), or for that matter any untuned bagpipe.
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