ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A report from outside consultants appointed by Orange County Commissioners suggested that legislation to control rent prices locally may do more harm than good.
Commissioner Emily Bonilla proposed a rent stabilization plan that would put a cap on rent increases temporarily.
GAI Consultants, an engineering consultant company, analyzed the plan and made recommendations to the board in a 54-page report.
Although some residents are begging for rent control, the consultants suggest it may do more harm in the county than good.
While the company noted that policies encouraging advance notices of rental increases could work, it also said the issues the plan addresses are beyond what local governments are capable of fixing.
It also said the trend in housing costs are not sudden and unexpected, but structural and deeply imbedded in the marketplace.
Jim Callahan, CEO and Data Scientist at Callahan Data Science LLC, performed an independent analysis and warned commissioners the consultants’ interpretation of the data is flawed and misleading, pointing to a 25% jump in average year-over-year rent increases.
“That’s why I said that doesn’t seem to expected, given these rates of decreases over the years,” Callahan said.
Callahan stated that — while he agrees with GAI Consultants’ figures — he believes they were misleading with the way the company presented them.
“I think the report minimized the significance of the rent increases and how much evictions were going up,” he said.
GAI Consultants noted in the report that factors such as the one-year period the plan implements won’t be worthwhile, as many leases and renewals occur beyond one year.
Other unintended consequences the company pointed to in the report were lowered maintenance, decoupling of utilities from rent prices — meaning utilities like water, sewer or power would be less likely to be included in rent prices — and “reduced mobility of the most vulnerable populations.”
Instead, the company said, the issue is the amount of housing and rental units in the market — the population of Orange County is growing faster than the rental market can accommodate, leading to a shortage of units and higher prices.
The report indicates GAI Consultants believes that implementing price controls for rent would decrease the amount of rental units in Orange County, thus furthering the shortage.
Commissioner Nicole Wilson said she was disappointed with the consultants and instead thanked Callahan Monday for his review of the report.
Commissioners will discuss the analysis at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Callahan said he plans to attend and further share his findings.