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Sections 760.20-760.37 may be cited as the “Fair Housing Act.”
History. — s. 1, ch. 83-221.
It is the policy of this state to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the state.
History — s. 2, ch. 83-221.
As used in ss. 760.20-760.37, the term:
(1) “Commission” means the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
(2) “Covered multifamily dwelling” means:
(a) A building which consists of four or more units and has an elevator; or
(b) The ground floor units of a building which consists of four or more units and does not have an elevator.
(3) “Disability” means:
(a) A person has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, or he or she has a record of having, or is regarded as having, such physical or mental impairment; or
(b) A person has a developmental disability as defined in s. 393.063.
(4) “Discriminatory housing practice” means an act that is unlawful under the terms of ss. 760.20-760.37.
(5) “Dwelling” means any building or structure, or portion thereof, which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families, and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location on the land of any such building or structure, or portion thereof.
(6) “Familial status” is established when an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years is domiciled with:
(a) A parent or other person having legal custody of such individual; or
(b) A designee of a parent or other person having legal custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person.
(7) “Family” includes a single individual.
(8) “Person” includes one or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers, and fiduciaries.
(9) “Substantially equivalent” means an administrative subdivision of the State of Florida meeting the requirements of 24 C.F.R. part 115, s. 115.6.
(10) “To rent” includes to lease, to sublease, to let, and otherwise to grant for a consideration the right to occupy premises not owned by the occupant.
History. — s. 3, ch. 83-221; s. 1, ch. 84-117; s. 1, ch. 87-106; s. 28, ch. 89-308; s. 1, ch. 89-321; s. 1138, ch. 97-102; s. 5, ch. 2020-76.
(1) It is unlawful to refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise to make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any person because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion.
(2) It is unlawful to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion.
(3) It is unlawful to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published, any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.
(4) It is unlawful to represent to any person because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available.
(5) It is unlawful, for profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by a representation regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion.
(6) The protections afforded under ss. 760.20-760.37 against discrimination on the basis of familial status apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.
(7) It is unlawful to discriminate in the sale or rental of, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a disability of:
(a) That buyer or renter;
(b) A person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is sold, rented, or made available; or
(c) Any person associated with the buyer or renter.
(8) It is unlawful to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a disability of:
(a) That buyer or renter;
(b) A person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is sold, rented, or made available; or
(c) Any person associated with the buyer or renter.
(9) For purposes of subsections (7) and (8), discrimination includes:
(a) A refusal to permit, at the expense of the person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises; or
(b) A refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
(10) Covered multifamily dwellings as defined herein which are intended for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, shall be designed and constructed to have at least one building entrance on an accessible route unless it is impractical to do so because of the terrain or unusual characteristics of the site as determined by commission rule. Such buildings shall also be designed and constructed in such a manner that:
(a) The public use and common use portions of such dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
(b) All doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises within such dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by a person in a wheelchair.
(c) All premises within such dwellings contain the following features of adaptive design:
1. An accessible route into and through the dwelling.
2. Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations.
3. Reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars.
4. Usable kitchens and bathrooms such that a person in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.
(d) Compliance with the appropriate requirements of the American National Standards Institute for buildings and facilities providing accessibility and usability for persons with physical disabilities, commonly cited as ANSI A117.1-1986, suffices to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (c).
State agencies with building construction regulation responsibility or local governments, as appropriate, shall review the plans and specifications for the construction of covered multifamily dwellings to determine consistency with the requirements of this subsection.
History. — s. 5, ch. 83-221; s. 2, ch. 84-117; s. 2, ch. 89-321; s. 6, ch. 2020-76.
It is unlawful to deny any person access to, or membership or participation in, any multiple-listing service, real estate brokers’ organization, or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or to discriminate against him or her in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation, on account of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion.
History. — s. 7, ch. 83-221; s. 3, ch. 84-117; s. 3, ch. 89-321; s. 1139, ch. 97-102; s. 7, ch. 2020-76.
(1) It is unlawful for any bank, building and loan association, insurance company, or other corporation, association, firm, or enterprise the business of which consists in whole or in part of the making of commercial real estate loans to deny a loan or other financial assistance to a person applying for the loan for the purpose of purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dwelling, or to discriminate against him or her in the fixing of the amount, interest rate, duration, or other term or condition of such loan or other financial assistance, because of the race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion of such person or of any person associated with him or her in connection with such loan or other financial assistance or the purposes of such loan or other financial assistance, or because of the race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion of the present or prospective owners, lessees, tenants, or occupants of the dwelling or dwellings in relation to which such loan or other financial assistance is to be made or given.
(a) It is unlawful for any person or entity whose business includes engaging in residential real estate transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion.
(b) As used in this subsection, the term “residential real estate transaction” means any of the following:
1. The making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance: a. For purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dwelling; or
b. Secured by residential real estate.
2. The selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real property.
History.—s. 6, ch. 83-221; s. 4, ch. 84-117; s. 4, ch. 89-321; s. 17, ch. 90-275; s. 1140, ch. 97-102; s. 8, ch. 2020-76.
It is unlawful to discriminate in land use decisions or in the permitting of development based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, religion, or, except as otherwise provided by law, the source of financing of a development or proposed development.
History. — s. 16, ch. 2000-353.
(1) DEFINITIONS. — As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Emotional support animal” means an animal that does not require training to do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, or provide therapeutic emotional support by virtue of its presence which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.
(b) “Housing provider” means any person or entity engaging in conduct covered by the federal Fair Housing Act or s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, including the owner or lessor of a dwelling.
(2) REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION REQUESTS. — To the extent required by federal law, rule, or regulation, it is unlawful to discriminate in the provision of housing to a person with a disability or disability-related need for, and who has or at any time obtains, an emotional support animal. A person with a disability or a disability-related need must, upon the person’s request and approval by a housing provider, be allowed to keep such animal in his or her dwelling as a reasonable accommodation in housing, and such person may not be required to pay extra compensation for such animal. Unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, rule, or regulation, a housing provider may:
(a) Deny a reasonable accommodation request for an emotional support animal if such animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others or poses a direct threat of physical damage to the property of others, which threat cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.
(b) If a person’s disability is not readily apparent, request reliable information that reasonably supports that the person has a disability. Supporting information may include: 1. A determination of disability from any federal, state, or local government agency.
2. Receipt of disability benefits or services from any federal, state, or local government agency.
3. Proof of eligibility for housing assistance or a housing voucher received because of a disability.
4. Information from a health care practitioner, as defined in s. 456.001; a telehealth provider, as defined in s. 456.47; or any other similarly licensed or certified practitioner or provider in good standing with his or her profession’s regulatory body in another state but only if such out-of-state practitioner has provided in-person care or services to the tenant on at least one occasion. Such information is reliable if the practitioner or provider has personal knowledge of the person’s disability and is acting within the scope of his or her practice to provide the supporting information.
5. Information from any other source that the housing provider reasonably determines to be reliable in accordance with the federal Fair Housing Act and s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
(c) If a person’s disability-related need for an emotional support animal is not readily apparent, request reliable information that reasonably supports the person’s need for the particular emotional support animal being requested. Supporting information may include:
1. Information identifying the particular assistance or therapeutic emotional support provided by the specific animal from a health care practitioner, as defined in s. 456.001; a telehealth provider, as defined in s. 456.47; or any other similarly licensed or certified practitioner or provider in good standing with his or her profession’s regulatory body in another state. Such information is reliable if the practitioner or provider has personal knowledge of the person’s disability and is acting within the scope of his or her practice to provide the supporting information.
2. Information from any other source that the housing provider reasonably determines to be reliable in accordance with the federal Fair Housing Act and s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
(d) If a person requests to keep more than one emotional support animal, request information regarding the specific need for each animal.
(e) Require proof of compliance with state and local requirements for licensing and vaccinating each emotional support animal.
(3) REQUEST LIMITATIONS. —
(a) Notwithstanding the authority to request information under subsection (2), a housing provider may not request information that discloses the diagnosis or severity of a person’s disability or any medical records relating to the disability. However, a person may disclose such information or medical records to the housing provider at his or her discretion.
(b) A housing provider may develop and make available to persons a routine method for receiving and processing reasonable accommodation requests for emotional support animals; however, a housing provider may not require the use of a specific form or notarized statement, or deny a request solely because a person did not follow the housing provider’s routine method.
(c) An emotional support animal registration of any kind, including, but not limited to, an identification card, patch, certificate, or similar registration obtained from the Internet is not, by itself, sufficient information to reliably establish that a person has a disability or a disability-related need for an emotional support animal.
(4) LIABILITY. — A person with a disability or a disability-related need is liable for any damage done to the premises or to another person on the premises by his or her emotional support animal.
(5) APPLICABILITY. — This section does not apply to a service animal as defined in s. 413.08.
History. — s. 1, ch. 2020-76.
(a) Nothing in ss. 760.23, 760.25, and 760.27 applies to:
1. Any single-family house sold or rented by its owner, provided such private individual owner does not own more than three single-family houses at any one time. In the case of the sale of a single-family house by a private individual owner who does not reside in such house at the time of the sale or who was not the most recent resident of the house prior to the sale, the exemption granted by this paragraph applies only with respect to one sale within any 24-month period. In addition, the bona fide private individual owner shall not own any interest in, nor shall there be owned or reserved on his or her behalf, under any express or voluntary agreement, title to, or any right to all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale or rental of, more than three single-family houses at any one time. The sale or rental of any single-family house shall be excepted from the application of ss. 760.20-760.37 only if the house is sold or rented:
a. Without the use in any manner of the sales or rental facilities or the sales or rental services of any real estate licensee or such facilities or services of any person in the business of selling or renting dwellings, or of any employee or agent of any such licensee or person; and
b. Without the publication, posting, or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of s. 760.23(3).
Nothing in this provision prohibits the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as is necessary to perfect or transfer the title.
2. Rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as his or her residence.
(b) For the purposes of paragraph (a), a person is deemed to be in the business of selling or renting dwellings if the person:
1. Has, within the preceding 12 months, participated as principal in three or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or interest therein;
2. Has, within the preceding 12 months, participated as agent, other than in the sale of his or her own personal residence, in providing sales or rental facilities or sales or rental services in two or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or interest therein; or
3. Is the owner of any dwelling designed or intended for occupancy by, or occupied by, five or more families.
(2) Nothing in ss. 760.20-760.37 prohibits a religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, from limiting the sale, rental, or occupancy of any dwelling which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion or from giving preference to such persons, unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, or national origin. Nothing in ss. 760.20-760.37 prohibits a private club not in fact open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provides lodgings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodgings to its members or from giving preference to its members.
(3) Nothing in ss. 760.20-760.37 requires any person renting or selling a dwelling constructed for first occupancy before March 13, 1991, to modify, alter, or adjust the dwelling in order to provide physical accessibility except as otherwise required by law.
(a) Any provision of ss. 760.20-760.37 regarding familial status does not apply with respect to housing for older persons.
(b) As used in this subsection, the term “housing for older persons” means housing:
1. Provided under any state or federal program that the commission determines is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons, as defined in the state or federal program;
2. Intended for, and solely occupied by, persons 62 years of age or older; or
3. Intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older that meets the following requirements:
a. At least 80 percent of the occupied units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older.
b. The housing facility or community publishes and adheres to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent required under this subparagraph. If the housing facility or community meets the requirements of sub-subparagraphs a. and c. and the recorded governing documents provide for an adult, senior, or retirement housing facility or community and the governing documents lack an amendatory procedure, prohibit amendments, or restrict amendments until a specified future date, then that housing facility or community shall be deemed housing for older persons intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older. If those documents further provide a prohibition against residents 16 years of age or younger, that provision shall be construed, for purposes of the Fair Housing Act, to only apply to residents 18 years of age or younger, in order to conform with federal law requirements. Governing documents which can be amended at a future date must be amended and properly recorded within 1 year after that date to reflect the requirements for consideration as housing for older persons, if that housing facility or community intends to continue as housing for older persons.
c. The housing facility or community complies with rules made by the Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to 24 C.F.R. part 100 for verification of occupancy, which rules provide for verification by reliable surveys and affidavits and include examples of the types of policies and procedures relevant to a determination of compliance with the requirements of sub-subparagraph b. Such surveys and affidavits are admissible in administrative and judicial proceedings for the purposes of such verification.
(c) Housing may still be considered housing for older persons if:
1. A person who resides in such housing on or after October 1, 1989, does not meet the age requirements of this subsection, provided that any new occupant meets such age requirements; or
2. One or more units are unoccupied, provided that any unoccupied units are reserved for occupancy by persons who meet the age requirements of this subsection.
(d) A person is not personally liable for monetary damages for a violation of this subsection if such person reasonably relied in good faith on the application of the exemption under this subsection relating to housing for older persons. For purposes of this paragraph, a person may show good faith reliance on the application of the exemption only by showing that:
1. The person has no actual knowledge that the facility or the community is ineligible, or will become ineligible, for such exemption; and
2. The facility or community has stated formally, in writing, that the facility or community complies with the requirements for such exemption.
A county or municipal ordinance regarding housing for older persons may not contravene the provisions of this subsection.
(5) Nothing in ss. 760.20-760.37:
(a) Prohibits a person engaged in the business of furnishing appraisals of real property from taking into consideration factors other than race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, or religion.
(b) Limits the applicability of any reasonable local restriction regarding the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling.
(c) Requires that a dwelling be made available to an individual whose tenancy would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or whose tenancy would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others.
(d) Prohibits conduct against a person because such person has been convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction of the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance as defined under chapter 893.
History. — ss. 4, 8, ch. 83-221; s. 5, ch. 84-117; s. 5, ch. 89-321; s. 18, ch. 90-275; s. 1, ch. 96-191; s. 1792, ch. 97-102; s. 1, ch. 99-348; s. 4, ch. 2001-143; s. 59, ch. 2003-164; s. 9, ch. 2020-76; s. 4, ch. 2020-153.
(1) The authority and responsibility for administering ss. 760.20-760.37 is in the commission.
(2) The commission may delegate any of its functions, duties, and powers to its employees, including functions, duties, and powers with respect to investigating, conciliating, hearing, determining, ordering, certifying, reporting, or otherwise acting as to any work, business, or matter under ss. 760.20-760.37.
History. — s. 9, ch. 83-221.
The commission shall:
(1) Make studies with respect to the nature and extent of discriminatory housing practices in representative urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout the state.
(2) Publish and disseminate reports, recommendations, and information derived from such studies.
(3) Cooperate with and render technical assistance to public or private agencies, organizations, and institutions within the state which are formulating or carrying on programs to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices.
(4) Administer the programs and activities relating to housing in a manner affirmatively to further the policies of ss. 760.20-760.37.
(5) Adopt rules necessary to implement ss. 760.20-760.37 and govern the proceedings of the commission in accordance with chapter 120. Commission rules shall clarify terms used with regard to accessibility for persons with disabilities, exceptions from accessibility requirements based on terrain or site characteristics, and requirements related to housing for older persons.
History. — s. 9, ch. 83-221; s. 6, ch. 89-321; s. 5, ch. 2001-143; s. 10, ch. 2020-76; s. 5, ch. 2020-153.
(1) In conducting an investigation, the commission shall have access at all reasonable times to premises, records, documents, individuals, and other evidence or possible sources of evidence and may examine, record, and copy such materials and take and record the testimony or statements of such persons as are reasonably necessary for the furtherance of the investigation, provided the commission first complies with the provisions of the State Constitution relating to unreasonable searches and seizures. The commission may issue subpoenas to compel its access to or the production of such materials or the appearance of such persons, and may issue interrogatories to a respondent, to the same extent and subject to the same limitations as would apply if the subpoenas or interrogatories were issued or served in aid of a civil action in court. The commission may administer oaths.
(2) Upon written application to the commission, a respondent shall be entitled to the issuance of a reasonable number of subpoenas by and in the name of the commission to the same extent and subject to the same limitations as subpoenas issued by the commission itself. A subpoena issued at the request of a respondent shall show on its face the name and address of such respondent and shall state that it was issued at her or his request.
(3) Within 5 days after service of a subpoena upon any person, such person may petition the commission to revoke or modify the subpoena. The commission shall grant the petition if it finds that the subpoena requires appearance or attendance at an unreasonable time or place, that it requires production of evidence which does not relate to any matter under investigation, that it does not describe with sufficient particularity the evidence to be produced, or that compliance would be unduly onerous or for other good reason.
(4) In case of refusal to obey a subpoena, the commission or the person at whose request the subpoena was issued may petition for its enforcement in the circuit court for the county in which the person to whom the subpoena was addressed resides, was served, or transacts business.
(5) Witnesses summoned by subpoena of the commission shall be entitled to the same witness and mileage fees as are witnesses in proceedings in court. Fees payable to a witness summoned by a subpoena issued at the request of a respondent shall be paid by the respondent.
History. — s. 9, ch. 83-221; s. 1141, ch. 97-102.
(1) Any person who claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice or who believes that he or she will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur may file a complaint with the commission. Complaints shall be in writing and contain such information and be in such form as the commission requires. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the commission shall furnish a copy to the person or persons who allegedly committed the discriminatory housing practice or are about to commit the alleged discriminatory housing practice. Within 100 days after receiving a complaint, or within 100 days after the expiration of any period of reference under subsection (3), the commission shall investigate the complaint and give notice in writing to the aggrieved person whether it intends to resolve it. If the commission decides to resolve the complaint, it shall proceed to try to eliminate or correct the alleged discriminatory housing practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion. Insofar as possible, conciliation meetings shall be held in the cities or other localities where the discriminatory housing practices allegedly occurred. Nothing said or done in the course of such informal endeavors may be made public or used as evidence in a subsequent proceeding under ss.
760.20-760.37 without the written consent of the persons concerned. Any employee of the commission who makes public any information in violation of this provision is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) Any person who files a complaint under subsection (1) must do so within 1 year after the alleged discriminatory housing practice occurred. The complaint must be in writing and shall state the facts upon which the allegations of a discriminatory housing practice are based. A complaint may be reasonably and fairly amended at any time. A respondent may file an answer to the complaint against him or her and, with the leave of the commission, which shall be granted whenever it would be reasonable and fair to do so, may amend his or her answer at any time. Both the complaint and the answer must be verified.
(3) If a local fair housing law provides rights and remedies for alleged discriminatory housing practices which are substantially equivalent to the rights and remedies provided in ss. 760.20-760.37, the commission shall notify the appropriate local agency of any complaint filed under ss. 760.20-760.37 which appears to constitute a violation of the local fair housing law, and the commission shall take no further action with respect to such complaint if the local law enforcement official has, within 30 days after the date the alleged offense was brought to his or her attention, commenced proceedings in the matter. In no event shall the commission take further action unless it certifies that in its judgment, under the circumstances of the particular case, the protection of the rights of the parties or the interests of justice require such action.
(4) The aggrieved person may commence a civil action in any appropriate court against the respondent named in the complaint or petition for an administrative determination under s. 760.35 to enforce the rights granted or protected by ss. 760.20-760.37 and is not required to petition for an administrative hearing or exhaust administrative remedies before commencing such action. If, as a result of its investigation under subsection (1), the commission finds there is reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred, at the request of the aggrieved person, the Attorney General may bring an action in the name of the state on behalf of the aggrieved person to enforce ss. 760.20-760.37.
(5) In any proceeding brought under this section or s. 760.35, the burden of proof is on the complainant.
(6) If an action filed in court under this section or s. 760.35 comes to trial, the commission shall immediately terminate all efforts to obtain voluntary compliance.
(a) The commission may institute a civil action in any appropriate court if it is unable to obtain voluntary compliance with ss. 760.20-760.37. The commission does not have to petition for an administrative hearing or exhaust its administrative remedies before bringing a civil action.
(b) The court may impose the following fines for each violation of ss. 760.20-760.37:
1. Up to $10,000, if the respondent has not previously been found guilty of a violation of ss. 760.20-760.37.
2. Up to $25,000, if the respondent has been found guilty of one prior violation of ss. 760.20-760.37 within the preceding 5 years.
3. Up to $50,000, if the respondent has been found guilty of two or more violations of ss. 760.20-760.37 within the preceding 7 years.
In imposing a fine under this paragraph, the court shall consider the nature and circumstances of the violation, the degree of culpability, the history of prior violations of ss. 760.20-760.37, the financial circumstances of the respondent, and the goal of deterring future violations of ss. 760.20-760.37.
(c) The court shall award reasonable attorney fees and costs to the commission in any action in which the commission prevails.
(8) Any local agency certified as substantially equivalent may institute a civil action in any appropriate court, including circuit court, if it is unable to obtain voluntary compliance with the local fair housing law. The agency does not have to petition for an administrative hearing or exhaust its administrative remedies before bringing a civil action. The court may impose fines as provided in the local fair housing law.
History. — ss. 9, 10, ch. 83-221; s. 7, ch. 89-321; s. 2, ch. 94-91; s. 418, ch. 96-406; s. 1793, ch. 97-102; s. 8, ch. 2013-207; s. 4, ch. 2020-164.
(1) An aggrieved person may commence a civil action no later than 2 years after an alleged discriminatory housing practice has occurred. However, the court shall continue a civil case brought under this section or s.
760.34 before bringing it to trial if the court believes that the conciliation efforts of the commission or local agency are likely to result in satisfactory settlement of the discriminatory housing practice complained of in the complaint made to the commission or to the local agency and which practice forms the basis for the action in court. Any sale, encumbrance, or rental consummated before the issuance of any court order issued under the authority of ss.
760.20-760.37 and involving a bona fide purchaser, encumbrancer, or tenant without actual notice of the existence of the filing of a complaint or civil action under ss. 760.20-760.37 is not affected.
(2) An aggrieved person may commence a civil action under this section regardless of whether a complaint has been filed under s. 760.34(1) and regardless of the status of any such complaint. If the commission has obtained a conciliation agreement with the consent of an aggrieved person under s. 760.36, the aggrieved person may not file any action under this section regarding the alleged discriminatory housing practice that forms the basis for the complaint except for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the conciliation agreement.
(3) An aggrieved person may not commence a civil action under this section regarding an alleged discriminatory housing practice if an administrative law judge has commenced a hearing on the record on the allegation.
(4) If the court finds that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred, it shall issue an order prohibiting the practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects of the practice, including injunctive and other equitable relief, actual and punitive damages, and reasonable attorney fees and costs.
(a) If the commission is unable to obtain voluntary compliance with ss. 760.20-760.37 or has reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory practice has occurred:
1. The commission may institute an administrative proceeding under chapter 120; or
2. The aggrieved person may request administrative relief under chapter 120 within 30 days after receiving notice that the commission has concluded its investigation under s. 760.34.
(b) Administrative hearings shall be conducted under ss. 120.569 and 120.57(1). The respondent must be served written notice by certified mail. If the administrative law judge finds that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur, he or she shall issue a recommended order to the commission prohibiting the practice and recommending affirmative relief from the effects of the practice, including quantifiable damages and reasonable attorney fees and costs. The commission may adopt, reject, or modify a recommended order only as provided under s. 120.57(1). Judgment for the amount of damages and costs assessed pursuant to a final order by the commission may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof and may be enforced as any other judgment.
(c) The district courts of appeal may, upon the filing of appropriate notices of appeal, review final orders of the commission under s. 120.68. Costs or fees may not be assessed against the commission in any appeal from a final order issued by the commission under this subsection. Unless specifically ordered by the court, the commencement of an appeal does not suspend or stay an order of the commission.
(d) This subsection does not prevent any other legal or administrative action provided by law.
History. — s. 11, ch. 83-221; s. 8, ch. 89-321; s. 303, ch. 96-410; s. 1794, ch. 97-102; s. 5, ch. 2020-164.
Any conciliation agreement arising out of conciliation efforts by the Florida Commission on Human Relations pursuant to the Fair Housing Act must be agreed to by the respondent and the complainant and is subject to the approval of the commission. Notwithstanding the provisions of s.
760.11(11) and (12), each conciliation agreement arising out of a complaint filed under the Fair Housing Act shall be made public unless the complainant and the respondent otherwise agree and the commission determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of the Florida Fair Housing Act.
History .— s. 19, ch. 90-275; s. 9, ch. 92-177; s. 4, ch. 92-282; s. 3, ch. 94-91; s. 419, ch. 96-406.
It is unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise of, or on account of her or his having exercised, or on account of her or his having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise of any right granted under ss.
760.20-760.37. This section may be enforced by appropriate administrative or civil action.
History. — s. 12, ch. 83-221; s. 9, ch. 89-321; s. 1142, ch. 97-102.