If apartment liability bill passes, residents worry about crime increasing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Victims of crime, survivors and advocates in Jacksonville are speaking out against a bill they feel would increase crime.

Valencia Way Apartments, formerly known as Eureka Gardens Apartments, is known as a high-crime area that could be at risk of even more crime incidents if House Bill 1165 is passed.

“So this is one of the areas that will be targeted. If those bills were passed, things would change here. Crime. The last thing we need to increase is the crime in the areas that are hurt the most,” said Justice Coalition Executive Director Robert Bracewell.

HB 1165 addresses who could be held responsible for crimes occurring at apartment complexes. If an apartment or complex owner has things like security cameras, lit parking lots, and locks on windows, doors and gates, then they can gain a presumption against liability if a crime happens on their property.

If they don’t have those measures, they don’t lose that presumption if the deviations were recommended by a law enforcement agency or a person with an active Florida Crime Prevention Practitioner designation.

The National Center for Victims of Crime said if a case gets to court, a jury would consider the fault of the criminal as opposed to looking at the negligence of the business.

“Whenever anybody has some fault, there should be opportunity for them to help make the crime victim hole for not doing their part,” Chief Program Officer Iva Rody said.

People opposing this bill said it removes the responsibility from businesses to provide adequate security, which could result in more crime in the area.

“We all have the right to feel safe where we are at. Businesses have the responsibility to create safe environments for people who are lawfully on their premises,” said Rody.

Victims and survivors of crime said this isn’t about money. Instead, it’s about crime victims that are sure to come in the future.

“I think we should be able to feel safe, where we are, where we go,” Florida Montoya’s daughter said.

The bill was read Tuesday in the House and is moving fast.

Those against the bill said they want legislators to slow down and consider the language, so the bill can be in favor of not just the businesses and their insurance companies but citizens and crime victims as well.

News4JAX is waiting to hear back from Jacksonville Representative Wyman Duggan who sponsored the bill.

If the bill is passed, it will go into effect on July 1.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad