Orange County rent control plan may face challenges, experts say

Board members passed plan in a close 4-3 vote to appear before voters in November

Many Floridians agree that affordable housing is a top issue, but what’s difficult to agree on is how to address it. In Orange County, the board voted Tuesday to put a rent control proposal in the hands of voters.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Many Floridians agree that affordable housing is a top issue, but what’s difficult to agree on is how to address it. In Orange County, the board voted Tuesday to put a rent control proposal in the hands of voters.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday night 4 - 3 to put a rent stabilization ordinance on the ballot in November.

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At the St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday night in Tampa Bay, however, leaders voted to not send their rent cap measure to the ballot. Their rent control proposal further differed from Orange County’s in that they had proposed a resolution, not an ordinance.

According to a report by WTSP-TV, the CBS affiliate in Tampa, the city attorney advised that a rent control resolution is not legally sufficient and that it would have to be in the form of an ordinance.

“Florida state statute actually preempts local government from enacting a rent control proposal unless very specific requirements are met,” said Amanda White with the Florida Apartment Association.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who voted against the rent control plan Tuesday, said there are measures the county has taken to help address high rent.

“I don’t know what a rent control will do because there still are going to be people, regardless, who are going to struggle paying their rent,” he said. “In this short term, we’ve got to provide money, real dollars to individuals to keep them in their homes. Even if we decide to advance the rent stabilization ordinance to the ballot, it will be all for naught if we don’t do these things to keep people in their homes right now.”

The plan has received pushback from housing experts and other members of the commission, who warned about the possible consequences of the plan.

The Orange County rent control plan will go on the ballot in November for a public vote.

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About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.