Lawmakers proposed legislation Friday aimed to elevate security measures at apartment complexes in Florida.
"Miya's Law," named after slain college student Miya Marcano, advocates elevating security on residential properties with stricter background checks and limitations on the use of master keys.
Marcano's family has been pushing for this protection since the 19-year-old was killed in September after police say a maintenance worker that had a master key to her unit killed her.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-Weston) filed HB 577 to create "Miya's Law," and Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has filed the companion Senate bill SB 898.
“As the parent of a daughter in a rental apartment at the University of Florida - it is my expectation that she is safe and will come home,” Bartleman said in a statement. “Those were Miya’s parents’ expectations, and their lives are forever changed. This horrible tragedy helped shed light on gaping security holes that exist, and we must ensure the safety of all Floridians in multi-family rentals. Everyone has the right to expect safety in their own home. This bill and the work through the foundation will ensure the safety of not only our children but millions of families who rent in our state.”
If the bill passes, this will make deeper, national background checks mandatory for all employees that work in apartment buildings with more than five units. Anyone with a felony or violent, criminal background would not be hired.
Miya’s Law will also require a 24-hour notice for anyone that needs to go inside a unit. Currently, they’re only required to give 12 hours notice. Stewart also says the person inside will also need to leave some sort of indicator that they’ve been there and have left.
“Miya’s death is an awful tragedy – one that has put a spotlight on problems with apartment safety and security,” Stewart said. “We’ve heard too many horror stories of some landlords disregarding the security of their tenants by issuing master keys to maintenance workers without running any background checks. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes and we are hopeful that ‘Miya’s Law’ will help make that a reality.”
Apartment complexes will also need to create a key access policy and a log to show where and when those keys are used — all of this would be part of the apartments' yearly inspections, and if the rules aren’t followed, they could be fined or potentially lose their license.
"I think she’s going to make a difference today even though she is not here, it feels like she could be here because it’s going to be a big impact for the state of Florida," Stewart said.
Stewart said the bill has bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House and is confident it will pass.
Marcano's was found in October in Orlando following a week-long search. She had moved there from South Florida after graduating from Flanagan High School.
The suspect in her death — a maintenance worker who lived at the apartment complex where Marcano lived and worked — killed himself shortly after the college student was reported missing.