Apartment Owners & Property Managers: Have You Posted Your Signs Yet?
As part of the Florida legislature’s effort to raise awareness of human trafficking – labor and commercial sex trafficking – it passed legislation requiring “public lodging establishments” to post signage regarding human trafficking in a conspicuous location accessible to employees. While subject to some exclusions, public lodging establishments include apartment buildings along with other property types.
The signage must be at least 11 inches by 15 inches in size, printed in an easily legible font and in at least 32-point type, stating in English, Spanish and any other language predominantly spoken in that area and read substantially as follows:
“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave, whether it is prostitution, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work, or any other activity, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233-733 to access help and services. Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and Florida law.”
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has posted an example of an approved sign on its website here. Until the Department provides more details on required posting locations, with respect to apartment buildings, we recommend signs be posted in the apartment complex office/reception area. It is also recommended that owners and property managers post signs in any other area frequented by employees, such as the employee breakroom and clubhouse restrooms.
That statute required the posting of the signs by January 1, 2021. Noncompliant public lodging establishments are subject to an administrative fine of $2,000 per day; however, if the property owner provides the Department’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants with adequate written documentation which provides assurance that each deficiency will be corrected within 90 days after the Division notified the owner of the violation, the fine will be waived.
In addition to the signage requirements, the new Florida legislation requires annual training of housekeeping and front desk/reception employees by the later of January 1, 2021 or 60 days after the employee’s start date. Training must include the definition of human trafficking and the difference between sex trafficking and labor trafficking, guidance concerning how to identify individuals who may be human trafficking victims and guidance concerning the roles of the employee in reporting and responding to suspected human trafficking. Training curriculum must be approved by the Department – pre-approved training classes, some of which are available to the public, are published on the Department’s website. Owners must maintain a signed and dated acknowledgement by the employee of having received the training which must be made available to the Department upon request.
Also by January 1, 2021, applicable property owners were required to implement a procedure for reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline or to a local law enforcement agency.
Reach out to your attorney if you have questions about whether and how the Florida legislation on human trafficking applies to you, and, if so, how to obtain compliance. Further, we understand many States are passing similar human trafficking legislation. Apartment owners, management companies, those offering short term rentals such as AirBnB or VRBO and timeshares, should seek legal counsel to determine the applicable laws in a jurisdiction and ensure they are complaint, if the law applies to their property.