Item Coversheet



TO: Finance and Economic Resiliency Committee Members

Alina T. Hudak, City Manager

DATE: February 17, 2023



At the October 26, 2022 City Commission meeting, Commissioner Fernandez sponsored a referral item to the Finance and Economic Resiliency Committee regarding establishing a universal rental fee application program.


According to the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, the median single-family home price in Miami-Dade County consistently exceeds the statewide price. More concerning is that Miami Beach home prices far exceed that of the county and state. Housing is considered affordable if costs do not exceed than 30% of household income. Households are considered cost burdened when they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, mortgage and other housing needs.

For years, Miami-Dade County has been challenged by a severe affordable housing crisis, with most renters with incomes below 80% AMI being cost-burdened. For example, a full-time worker would need to earn over $29.83 hourly to pay $1,551 monthly rent. In 2022, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami Beach was $1,600.

It may take a renter several months and countless applications to secure affordable housing. Landlords typically pay a rental application fee for the costs associated with processing a lease application. In most cases, the fee covers running a background check and a credit history. On average, an application fee can run between $40 and $135 per renter. Filling out several lease applications in the housing search could cost a renter over $500.

The Administration contemplated the development of a program that would reduce rental application costs and require a landlord to accept the City’s third-party credit checks, background checks, employment checks, and personal reference checks. Given the City’s involvement in processing fees, the Administration identified the following concerns:

• Potential liability exposure for interjecting the City in the landlord-tenant process whereby City would need to limit liability through releases from tenants and indemnity from a third-party servicer;

• Estimated costs and staff resources to implement such a program as the City would essentially become a party between landlords, tenants, and the third-party background check providers; and

• Public record exposure to tenants as their personal information, credit checks, and background checks may be subject to public disclosure if someone wishes to file a public records request with the City.

Alternatively, the City could establish a pilot grant program for qualifying low-income tenants and reimburse the tenants for their application costs exceeding a certain dollar value with a maximum reimbursement amount and limitations as to the number of eligible applications per fiscal year.


The Administration supports the exploration of a pilot grant program that would reimburse tenants, on a limited basis, for application fees to assist with navigating the housing market and alleviate the cost burden experienced by low-income renters. The pilot grant program would have to be funded through the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget development process.   

Applicable Area

Not Applicable
Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
No No 

Strategic Connection

Mobility - Increase housing options for current and future residents.
Referral Memo - Universal Rental Application Fee Processing Memo