Landlords opposed the government’s rent control initiative in Orlando

Landlords opposed the government’s rent control initiative in Orlando

The ballots haven’t been printed yet, but a group of homeowners and real estate agents is already trying to stop voters from making a decision to control the rent in Orlando. Last week, the Florida Apartment Association and the Florida Association of Realtors sued Orange County, Florida. They want to prevent the vote to restrict homeowners’ rights and the amount by which they may increase the rent.

Representatives of the above associations declare that the Florida legislation prohibits rent control ordinances except in emergencies and the current situation in the county where Orlando is located falls short of that. They are also saying that such a decree can have serious repercussions that will exacerbate the situation in the local real estate market and prevent construction of new residential properties.

“This flies in the face of the public interest and the interests of the claimants. Putting it on the ballot or putting the rent control ordinance in effect is an illegal decision,” the Associations stated in their lawsuit.

Earlier this month, the Orange County Commission has narrowly voted for approving the rent control ordinance, so now the voters will decide its fate in November. Under the ordinance, the rent increase in apartment blocks shall not exceed the annual growth of the Consumer Price Index. It does not cover luxurious apartments, single-home families, or vacation homes.

Violators may have to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Landlords will be able to petition for an exception under certain circumstances.

The average rent in Orange County increased from $1,357 in 2020 to $1,697 in 2021. The local market hasn’t seen such growth since 2006. Its key reason is the low supply: there is a shortage of 26,500 residences in the county.

“For many years, the tenants were asking the Commission to do something about the emergency we are currently experiencing,” Stephanie Porta, Co-Founder of Florida Rising Social Justice Group, declared. “Corporate landlords, property investors, and developers are raising prices and receiving record-breaking profits, while hardworking residents of Orange County are being forced out of their communities.”

Miami Beach introduced rent control measures in the 1960s and the 1970s, before the Florida law restricting them was passed. The Orange County’s ordinance will be the first such measure in the entire state in the past few decades. Similar ordinances were adopted in California and Oregon, as well as urban areas, such as Saint Paul (Minnesota) and Portland.

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