Aug 13

Mayor Hayward Judges Pensacola Housing ‘Secret Ingredient’ Challenge

Posted on August 13, 2018 at 4:27 pm by Dawn Corrigan

On August 7, 2018, Mayor Ashton Hayward and a small delegation from City Hall visited Pensacola Housing to serve as judges in the Housing Division’s first ever “Secret Ingredient Challenge,” a fun cooking competition where staff members were divided into four teams, each of which prepared dishes using a specific ingredient. The teams were Team Bacon, Team Honey, Team Jello, and Team Sweet Potato.

Continue Reading...

Jul 17

Housing Employee Recognized as Employee of the Month

Posted on July 17, 2018 at 7:46 am by Dawn Corrigan

06-27-18 EM and AH with caption
On June 27, 2018, Pensacola Housing HQS inspector Edward Milteer was recognized by Mayor Ashton Hayward and other city staff as the City of Pensacola’s June 2018 Employee of the Month.

As part of the recognition event, Chief Human Resources Officer Edward Sisson made the following remarks:

In the early morning hours of May 1, 2018, a fire broke out in a group of townhouses in Pensacola. Several of the homes were occupied by participants in the City of Pensacola's rental assistance program. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire, but damage to several of the units was extensive.

To make matters worse, the owner of the units had passed away unexpectedly 4 days before, meaning the tenants were already fearful about the future of their tenancy.

City of Pensacola Housing Quality Standards Inspector Edward Milteer brought the fire to the attention of Housing senior staff early on May 1. He visited the site that morning so he could inform staff of actual conditions on scene, and then revisited in the afternoon to check in with the tenants, answer questions about their program participation, and offer reassurances.

Mr. Milteer's management of the situation meant Housing staff was able to offer better assistance to the affected tenants, since they already had a strategy in place by the time the tenants called. His foresight and leadership were comforting to the impacted tenants and helpful to his teammates back at the office. Mr. Milteer regularly exhibits these traits, which is why the City is happy to recognize him as the June 2018 Employee of the Month.

Congratulations, Edward!
Jun 21

Rental Fundamentals: When Can a Landlord Enter the Unit?

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 4:15 pm by Dawn Corrigan

By Demetrius Pettway, Customer Service Representative

On April 1 of this year, Pensacola Housing implemented some changes to our HQS Inspection Policies. Since then, I’ve had a chance to see the impact the new policies are having on our landlords and tenants, and we’ve been able to pinpoint issues that may have escaped our attention before. One observation is that some landlords and tenants appear unaware that they are required to abide by the Florida statutes covering landlord and tenant relations, as well as the federal regulations that govern the voucher program.

Landlord/tenant law is covered in Chapter 83 of the Florida statutes, and the entire chapter is available online. One section that comes up a lot during the inspection process is section 83.53, “Landlord’s access to dwelling unit.” If our inspector arrives and the tenant is not available to grant access, sometimes the landlord or property manager wants to enter the unit to escort the inspector, but without providing the tenant with proper notice. However, the law says that unless it is an emergency, the landlord must provide the tenant with prior written notice when they intend to enter the unit to inspect it, to make repairs, or to show it to prospective buyers or renters.

Florida statute defines adequate notice as a minimum of 12 hours from the time of notification to the actual entering of the premises. The notice can be simple. Many apartment complexes will post a flyer-type letter to residents’ doors stating that maintenance or office personnel will be entering the unit on a specific future date, within a set time frame, for a specified reason, such as filter changes, pest spraying, or even just to inspect for items that need repairing. This method is easy to use, and I would suggest it for our individual and sole proprietor landlords as well.

It is legal for the landlord to give our inspector access to the unit, and for them to enter together when the tenant isn’t home, as long as this prior written notice has been delivered, or the tenant has given their consent. However, if the landlord can’t confirm that prior written notice was provided, our inspectors will not enter the unit.

When this issue comes up, sometimes landlords tell me prior written notice is covered in their lease. While it is a good idea to cover your maintenance and right-to-enter policies in your lease, a blanket policy like that is not sufficient to comply with section 83.53, which requires you to give prior written notice of your intent to enter the unit on a specific date.

Section 83.53 is not just for the benefit of tenants; it offers protections to the landlord as well. Under the law, the tenant cannot unreasonably withhold access to the premises. Sometimes we hear from landlords who say their tenant is refusing to allow them to enter the unit to make necessary repairs. When that happens, we remind the landlord that the tenant cannot unreasonably deny access. The landlord just needs to post their 12 hour notice, and then they can enter and complete the repairs.

As with so many things, the key to a successful landlord/tenant relationship is good communication. When landlords and tenants communicate their needs and concerns directly to each other, a better partnership results—and the HQS inspection process goes more smoothly, too!