(a) The inspection department may make periodic inspections, subject to the board of commissioners' directions, for unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous and unlawful conditions in buildings or structures within its territorial jurisdiction. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the inspection department may make periodic inspections only when there is reasonable cause to believe that unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous or unlawful conditions may exist in a residential building or structure. For purposes of this section, the term "reasonable cause" means any of the following: (i) the landlord or owner has a history of more than two verified violations of the housing ordinances or codes within a 12-month period; (ii) there has been a complaint that substandard conditions exist within the building or there has been a request that the building be inspected; (iii) the inspection department has actual knowledge of an unsafe condition within the building; or (iv) violations of the local ordinances or codes are visible from the outside of the property. In conducting inspections authorized under this section, the inspection department shall not discriminate between single-family and multifamily buildings. In exercising these powers, each member of the inspection department has a right, upon presentation of proper credentials, to enter on any premises within the territorial jurisdiction of the department at any reasonable hour for the purposes of inspection or other enforcement action. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit periodic inspections in accordance with State fire prevention code or as otherwise required by State law.
(b) A county may require periodic inspections as part of a targeted effort within a geographic area that has been designated by the county commissioners. The county shall not discriminate in its selection of areas or housing types to be targeted and shall (i) provide notice to all owners and residents of properties in the affected area about the periodic inspections plan and information regarding a public hearing regarding the plan; (ii) hold a public hearing regarding the plan; and (iii) establish a plan to address the ability of low-income residential property owners to comply with minimum housing code standards.
(c) In no event may a county do any of the following: (i) adopt or enforce any ordinance that would require any owner or manager of rental property to obtain any permit or permission from the county to lease or rent residential real property, except for those rental units that have more than three verified violations of housing ordinances or codes in a 12-month period or upon the property being identified within the top 10% of properties with crime or disorder problems as set forth in a local ordinance; (ii) require that an owner or manager of residential rental property enroll or participate in any governmental program as a condition of obtaining a certificate of occupancy; or (iii) except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, levy a special fee or tax on residential rental property that is not also levied against other commercial and residential properties.
(d) A county may levy a fee for residential rental property registration under subsection (c) of this section for those rental units which have been found with more than two verified violations of housing ordinances or codes within the previous 12 months or upon the property being identified within the top 10% of properties with crime or disorder problems as set forth in a local ordinance. The fee shall be an amount that covers the cost of operating a residential registration program and shall not be used to supplant revenue in other areas. Counties using registration programs that charge registration fees for all residential rental properties as of June 1, 2011, may continue levying a fee on all residential rental properties as follows:
(1) For properties with 20 or more residential rental units, the fee shall be no more than fifty dollars ($50.00) per year.
(2) For properties with fewer than 20 but more than three residential rental units, the fee shall be no more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per year.
(3) For properties with three or fewer residential rental units, the fee shall be no more than fifteen dollars ($15.00) per year. (1969, c. 1066, s. 1; 1973, c. 822, s. 1; 2011-281, s. 1.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014