Florida realty groups file lawsuit over Orange County rent ballot measure, reports show

Companies claim rent control is not ‘necessary and proper,’ according to lawsuit

Proposed rent control ordinance will be on the ballot in November, but realtor and apartment groups say it's a violation of state law.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Several Florida realty groups filed a lawsuit Monday over a rent control proposal introduced by Orange County commissioners earlier this month, according to an affidavit.

The proposal includes several measures that limit how much developers and landlords can raise rents for tenants over the next year. Orange County commissioners voted 4-3 earlier this month to put the plan on the ballot in November for voters to consider.

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The lawsuit states that Florida Association of Realtors, Florida Realtors and Florida Apartment Association, Inc., filed the lawsuit against Orange County over limitations imposed by the plan.

In the lawsuit, the groups claim that Orange County commissioners failed to demonstrate the rent control proposal would be “necessary and proper” to address a housing emergency in the county, per Florida state statutes.

According to Florida Apartment Association, the proposal was pushed through by the commission despite criticism from rental-housing industry experts.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings — who voted against the plan — told News 6 he was concerned that legal challenges could stem from the proposal.

“It’s probably not unexpected because we know that, by the way, the Florida legislature wrote the statute back in 1977,” Demings said. “They had a high bar that a local government had to make or achieve in order to prove that you had an emerging rent crisis within your community, and so we knew that that would be a bit of a challenge.”

According to Demings, the county’s rent control proposal has been unprecedented within the past 45 years in Florida.

“Keep in mind, there’s really no court cases available that really gives a kind of clear instruction to what we’re doing,” he said. “Because in the 45 years that the law has existed in Florida, there has never been a local government to move forward with rent stabilization or rent control.”

Currently, the rent control plan is set to appear before Orange County voters on the ballot for the midterm elections. If passed, the ordinance would go into effect around Nov. 21 and would expire one year after the effective date.

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Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.