Orange County board holds special session on rental ordinances

While board members agreed on some proposals, there was still no consensus on a rent control ordinance

The Orange County Commission met Thursday to discuss possible solutions to soaring rent costs, including a controversial rent stabilization plan and advance notices for rent increases.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County board came out of Thursday’s special session with a consensus on a notice ordinance and tenants bill of rights — but agreed more research and further discussion needs to be had about a rent stabilization ordinance.

Mayor Jerry Demings told News 6, “We’re listening to both sides of the equation, the landlords and tenants here, and we will come up with something that will be balanced in our approach.”

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For the notice ordinance, they are looking at requiring landlords to give 60 days notice if landlords are going to be raising rent.

And with regards to the tenants bill of rights, the board came to a consensus that it will be county-wide, and they will create an office for oversight and enforcement.

But the bulk of the discussion centered on the rent stabilization ordinance, which would put a cap on the amount by which landlords are allowed to raise rent on tenants.

With about 230-thousand renter-occupied units in Orange County, the board discussed which units would be impacted.

The county said, in looking at a rent cap, it would only impact apartments and landlords with four or more rental units. The board added that luxury apartments would be exempt, but that would require the board to define what’s considered a “luxury apartment.”

The board decided to seek an interpretation regarding what would be considered luxury from the State Attorney General’s office.

There are some potential roadblocks: the rent stabilization ordinance would have to meet Florida statutes, which does not allow a county or municipality to control rent, unless they’ve established there is a housing emergency.

However, commission meetings earlier this month and a $60,000 report from a consultant team hired by the county have both stated that current conditions in Orange County don’t yet qualify as a housing emergency.

Additionally, if the county approves an ordinance, it would then be placed on the ballot in November, leaving it in the hands of voters to decide.

There will be a work session on July 26 to discuss the rent stabilization ordinance and a public hearing that same day on the 60-day notice ordinance.