Current Issues

What We Are Fighting For!

 

Landlord Licensing and Registration


In 2019, the City of Port St. Lucie has proposed mandatory landlord licensing and registration for all residential landlords. Under this proposal, landlords would be required to purchase a license, register with the city, and submit to annual inspections. Refusal to comply would potentially result in fines and liens against property.

Mandatory landlord licensing and inspection is a discriminatory practice that invades the privacy of tenants and property owners. It selectively punishes landlords while establishing another set of rules for non landlord property owners. The overwhelming majority of landlords are in our area manage their property to excellent standards, yet will be forced to pay for the ineptitude and carelessness of a very small minority.  Code Enforcement is already in place and should be handling this issue within their own department.    This new law would form a  new, large, and very expensive bureaucratic department within Port St. Lucie to enforce it.  The St. Lucie County Landlord Association views landlord licensing and registration as just another government money grab at the expense of it's taxpaying citizens. 


Just like the ever increasing property taxes on landlords in St. Lucie County, this will reduce the amount of available rentals and increase the cost of local rents.   This new form of tax will be passed onto tenants in the form of increased rents.   It will also lead to many landlords selling due to the reduced net income and hassle of trying to keep a profitable real estate investment.  It is very important we keep rents affordable in Saint Lucie County as it always has been.  Higher rents in our area does not mean more profits for landlords due to excessive taxation and increasing insurance costs.  The net income of landlords over the past few years has decreased and yet tenants are forced to pay ever increasing rents to offset the government fees and taxes that are being placed on non-homesteaded residential and commercial property owners in Saint Lucie County. 


The City of Port St. Lucie, needs to enforce its current code laws and hire more code enforcement officers.   The expense of these new officers can be paid for by actually collecting the millions of dollars they have on the books already from code enforcement fines and liens from the properties currently in violation.  The last we heard this amount of back fines due to the city is in the $6,000,000.00 range.   


Millage Rate


According to a 2018 study done by Florida Tax Watch, St. Lucie County had the highest property tax millage rate in the state of Florida, out of 67 counties. Millage rate is defined as the amount of tax per $1,000 of assessed value. In 2018, the aggregate millage rate for St. Lucie County was 23.114, which was 27.7% higher than the state average of 18.097 and  36.9% higher than the state median. 


Meanwhile, according to the same study, per capita income in St. Lucie County was $36,196 in 2016, 21.3% lower than the state average of $45,953. Our millage rate is set to increase by 1 mill next year due to the passage of the 2019 School Board Referendum, further compounding our highest in the state millage rate problem.


Responsible Local Government Spending


It is time that our local government start controlling their spending habits.  This is a national and state problem as well.  At least we can help control our local economy which is what we plan to do.  Our cities and county have had non stop increases in funding from taxpayers yet it seems to never be enough.  Well it is now.  Stand with us and let's make sure over-taxation and anti-landlord laws are stopped immediately!


  

                                                      Recent Issues Affecting St. Lucie County Landlords


  • 2016 City of Fort Pierce landlord licensing proposal (failed)

Initiated by code enforcement, proposed mandatory licensing and registration fees, bi-yearly inspections of inside and outside of all rental property, financial penalties for non-compliance


  • 2018 State Amendment 1 increased Homestead property tax exemption (failed)

Would have raised the homestead exemption for primary residences from $100,000 to $125,000 and resulted in the losses of $752 million in tax revenue to cities, counties, and special districts statewide, possibly resulting in higher taxes on non-homesteaded property.


  • 2018 State Amendment 2 10% cap on non-homestead property (passed)

Originally passed in 2008 with an expiration date of 2018, this amendment capped the yearly property tax increase on non-homestead property at 10% and was made permanent law by passing in 2018.


  • 2019 St. Lucie County School Board referendum (passed)

Proposal to increase teacher salary, fund school resource deputies, and increase funding for mental health programs in public schools by raising property tax by 1 mill. Due to School Board taxing authority at market value rather than assessed, resulted in much higher taxes than most anticipated.


  • 2019 City of Fort Pierce proposed property tax millage rate increase (failed)

City of Fort Pierce proposed a millage rate increase to fund an additional $3 million for increased salaries and other budget needs for the Fort Pierce Police Department. 


  • 2019 City of Port St. Lucie proposed landlord licensing and registration

Requires the owners of all rental units to register with the city and obtain an identification number. Yearly fees would be $66 per year, per unit, with multi-family parcels paying the fee for every unit. In addition, it requires utility companies to report to the city whenever utilities are turned on in anyone other than the owners name. Owners must provide the city with a list of names for all tenants, as well as a list of all pets with proof of licensing for that pet. By submitting an application for a landlord identification number, the owner is authorizing the city of Port St. Lucie to conduct an inspection of each unit. Failure to comply could result in city Code Compliance liens. 


  • Existing highest in the state of Florida (67 counties) property tax millage rate

According to a study done by Florida Tax Watch in January of 2018, St. Lucie County had a millage rate of 23.114. The average county millage rate for the state of Florida was 18.097, and the median rate was 16.885. This means that our rate was 27.7% higher than the state average, and almost 37% higher than the state median. Keep in mind that these figures are BEFORE the millage rate was increased by 1 for the School Board referendum in April 2019.