Nearly six months after the death of Miya Marcano, the young college student whose death rocked the Caribbean American community, Florida lawmakers have passed a bill requiring tougher protections for renters.
The Miya Law, passed unanimously by the Senate on March 11, requires building owners and managers to conduct background checks on all potential employees.
According to the Miya Marcano Foundation’s official website, the law also places limits on the use of master keys by building employees “to ensure the protection of all tenants and to help strengthen landlord-tenant relationships.” The bill was also passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on March 10.
Miya’s family and Florida lawmakers lobbied for the bill after the 19-year-old Valencia College student died in September 2021.
Investigators say an Arden Villas Apartments maintenance worker, Armando Caballero, used a master key fob to enter her apartment and then kidnapped her. Marcano’s body was found in Orlando a week after he disappeared.
According to his family, Cabellero had also expressed romantic interest in the young student but was rebuffed. They also accused the apartment management of not taking Miya’s complaints about Cabellero seriously.
Miya, the daughter of famed South Florida Trinidadian DJ Marlon Marcano (DJ EternalVibes), was a resident and employee of the apartment complex.
After the bill passed on Friday, Marlon thanked lawmakers. “The last few months have been incredible, to say the least. What my family and I have been through, words can never explain. We extend a very special thank you to each of you. Miya is my world. She is my little girl and I know today that she is smiling,” he said, addressing reporters.
State Senator Linda Stewart, the bill’s lead sponsor, said she and her colleagues want to make sure what happened to Miya doesn’t happen again.
“Today marks an important milestone for Miya’s Law and brings us one step closer to establishing vital protections for tenants. This bill will honor 19-year-old Miya Marcano, a student who was murdered without reason last year by a maintenance worker at the apartment complex she was residing in. Although Miya’s family will never get justice and nothing can bring their daughter back, I hope that with the adoption of Miya’s Law, it will bring some peace to the family and knowing that their daughter’s death was not in vain,” Stewart said in a statement.
The bill also prohibits motels from charging hourly rates, in an effort to prevent sex trafficking. Tenants will also need to be given 24 hours notice before workers can enter apartments.
The legislation is now headed to Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign off. If approved, landlords who break the law could be prosecuted for a first-degree felony or misdemeanor.
“This bill won’t bring Miya back, but it will bring a greater sense of security to Florida’s two million renters,” added Rep. Robin Bartleman, sponsor of the bill.
“Thank you to Miya’s family, the Miya Marcano Foundation, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and Rep. Scott Plakon. This session has been so divisive, but when it comes to the safety of Floridians, our college students moving into their first apartment, or our seniors living in apartments, this Legislature is taking swift, bipartisan action. I urge Governor DeSantis to honor Miya’s name and sign this potentially life-saving legislation.
Miya Marcano was buried last October in South Florida.