TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – To protect and preserve property owners’ rights in Florida, House Speaker Jose Oliva last week sent a clear message to local government officials and licensed professionals throughout Florida.
During the 2019 legislative session, a bill that prohibits local governments from imposing restrictions, fines and other barriers on property owners who need to remove a tree passed. It was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis and became effective July 1, 2019.
A recent news report about a Miami man who was threatened with a $24,000 fine for trimming a dangerous tree on his property revealed the need for a reminder.
“People should be free to protect their families and homes from trees and landscaping that poses a risk to them,” Oliva said. “The House takes seriously its duty to protect the rights of Florida residents and property owners and prevent government interference with those rights."
On Friday, Jan. 10, the Speaker’s Office mailed 488 letters to local governments, directing them to immediately end ongoing enforcement of local regulations in conflict with the contents of CS/HB 1159. An additional 72,070 letters went out to Florida licensed professionals who directly deal with municipal governments.
“As you serve your clients, you may have encountered local government standing in your way or threatening sanctions or even levying fines for simply doing what you know, in your training and experience, to be the correct thing to do,” Oliva’s letter to them begins. “Those days are over.”
CS/HB 1159 was sponsored by Reps. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, and Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey in the Hills. It is now written into Chapter No. 2019-155 of state law.
Floridians can report any questionable local government actions restricting the free exercise of property owners’ rights by contacting the Speaker’s Office at 850-717-5000.