LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — It continues to be tough times for renters in South Florida, but Lake Worth Beach aims to provide some relief.
City commissioners passed an ordinance this week requiring landlords to give a 60-day notice if they're raising rent.
The new ordinance affects many renters who are paying month-to-month rather than a long-term lease.
No longer will they be subject to 15-day notices that their rents are increasing more than 5%.
"For those of us who live here and have investment in the sense of community and family, I think we really need to step up," said a Lake Worth Beach resident at Tuesday night's commission meeting.
Renters are struggling with notices their rent is increasing hundreds of dollars if they renew.
Even with a 25% increase in rent in the last year, according to rental site Zumper.com, Lake Worth Beach is one of the more affordable coastal towns for Palm Beach County renters.
"It's a walkable city, and we're close to the town, to the ocean and Intracoastal [Waterway], and I love it," said property owner, Vicki Perez.
Perez bought a historic home in Lake Worth Beach and considered renting it out.
She said after the city commission passed an ordinance this week, putting requirements on landlords who rent to tenants month to month, she's worried about what's next.
"I want the freedom to ask for whatever rent I would like to ask for," Perez said.
Local governments' hands are tied when it comes to implementing any type of rent control, but some are trying to help struggling renters.
Miami-Dade County passed a similar ordinance to Lake Worth Beach's last month.
Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth said he would be in favor of doing it county-wide, but there's more to it.
"I don't know if the county is going to be able to. In fact, when I heard from you, I reached out to our county attorney and I haven’t gotten an opinion back yet," said Weinroth, who said he is looking into the county's options.
Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Sarah Malega, who represents District 1, voiced her support for the ordinance but also cautioned how a state Senate bill waiting to become law could impact municipalities.
"[The 'Local Business Protection Act'] says local businesses can sue the city for any ordinance that we pass that affects them in a negative way of 15%. So, we have a lot of landlords in this city," Malega said during the commission meeting.
Weinroth agrees that Senate Bill 620 is a concern.
"Senate bill 620 has not been signed by the governor yet. We have sent a letter on behalf of the county asking him to veto it for this exact reason," Weinroth said. "We're worried that the possibility like this may occur."
Still, local leaders admit they must be responsible and do something to alleviate the burden renters are facing.
"I definitely support this ordinance and hope that we will not stop here, that we will continue to look at other ways we can be proactive," said Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Christopher McVoy of District 2.