ORLANDO, Fla. — The ballots haven’t even been printed yet, but already a group of Florida landlords, apartment managers and real estate agents want to stop voters from deciding on a measure that would implement rent control for a year at the hub theme park that has been one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States
The Florida Apartment Association and the Florida Association of Realtors last week sued Orange County, Florida, seeking to strike down a ballot initiative to limit how much landlords can raise rents. If passed by voters in the fall, it would be the first such measure in decades in the Sunshine State.
The associations say Florida law prohibits rent control orders except in emergencies, and the current situation in the county that is home to Orlando falls short of that standard. They also say the order could have the unintended consequence of making the situation worse by discouraging the construction of new apartment buildings and other housing.
“It is contrary and contrary to the public interest and the interests of the plaintiffs and their members to allow the rent control ordinance to be put on the ballot or enforced by Orange County when the order is unlawful and invalid,” the associations said. in court documents.
Earlier this month, the Orange County Board of Commissioners narrowly approved the rent control ordinance, which is now before voters for approval in November. The ordinance limits rent increases in multi-unit buildings to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. The order does not apply to luxury units, single-family homes or vacation rentals.
Violators of the ordinance could face fines of up to $1,000 per day for a first offense, with fines not exceeding $15,000 per offense. Owners could request an exception to the limits under certain conditions.
According to the measure passed by the commissioners, the asking rent per unit in Orange County rose from $1,357 in 2020 to $1,697 in 2021, the largest increase since 2006, and the county is short by 26,500 units.
“For years tenants have asked this commission to do something about the coming emergency we find ourselves in right now,” Stephanie Porta, co-founder of social justice group Florida Rising, said last month. at a committee meeting. “Business owners, real estate investors and developers are driving up prices and making record profits while hard-working Orange County residents are locked out of their communities.”
The city of Miami Beach in the 1960s and 1970s imposed rent control measures before Florida law limited them. The Orange County order would be the first such action in the state in decades. Rent control measures have been passed in California and Oregon, as well as metropolitan areas like St. Paul, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon.
Orange County has grown from 1.1 million to 1.4 million residents over the past decade, according to the 2020 census.