By Joe Gorchow

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Renters in Miami-Dade walked out of Tuesday’s commission meeting with bright smiles.

It’s because commissioners voted unanimously to pass the Tenant Bill of Rights ordinance.

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“It will help alleviate the pressure they feel,” said District 2 Commissioner Jean Monestime, who is also co-sponsor of the legislation.  “The burden they have to carry with the increase in rents.”

As Vice-Chairman Oliver Gibert said during the ordinance debate, the Tenants Bill of Rights levels the playing field.  He stressed the landlords and tenants were not in the same position of strength.  This new measure helps tenants while not financially crippling landlords.

It ensures renters’ rights to address sub-standard conditions.  It gives tenants the ability to get landlords to pay for certain repairs.  Today’s yes vote also guarantees renters access to resources and documents explaining their rights.

“As a former legal services attorney, I’m very well aware not all landlords maintain their properties,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.  This is an important part of the ordinance.  They can make those necessary repairs for habitability.”

“Today gives them peace of mind for this moment,” said District 9 commissioner Kionne L. McGhee.  “This is a moment we must appreciate.  The next step is going to be even tougher.”

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Executive Director of the Miami Workers Center Santra Denis tells CBS4 this new ordinance is the first step to ensuring people can stay in their homes.

“Without the tenants organizing with their neighbors, without them saying this is not right, we wouldn’t be here today,” added Denis.

The more significant issue is rent hikes.  The county cites a report that more than half of the renters in Miami Dade spend more than 30-percent of their income on rent.

CBS4 asked the commissioners what was in the works to help tenants with rent.

“There’s no silver bullet for this,” said Gilbert.  “On a basic level, it’s supply and demand.  We have to increase the supply so we can bring down the cost.  We need to address transit and how quickly we do stuff.”

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A report from the county posted on April 15th shows 44 affordable housing projects in progress, totaling more than 4700 units.  Nineteen such projects are 50% completed.