Lawsuit Filed Against Orange County for ‘Flawed’ Rent Control Measure

By Lydia Nusbaum, Florida's Voice

August 17, 2022 Updated 3:02 PM ET

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August 17, 2022 Updated 3:02 P.M. ET

ORANGE COUNTY (FLV) – Groups representing apartment owners and realtors filed a lawsuit to remove Orange County’s rent control measure from the November ballot.

Amanda White, the Florida Apartment Association government affairs director, called the rent control measure “flawed” and said it does not meet the “high bar” needed to impose rent control under Florida law. The Florida Association of Realtors, Florida Realtors, and the Florida Apartment Association filed the lawsuit.

“Last week, despite feedback from experts and professionals in the rental housing industry, the Orange County Commission voted to move a fundamentally flawed rent control measure to the General Election ballot,” White said.

The Orange County rent ordinance asks voters if they want to cap rent increases for one year. Commissioners voted last week to allow the measure on the ballot.

“Shall the orange County Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits rent increases for certain residential rental units in multifamily structures to Consumer Price Index and requires the County to create a process for landlords to request an exception to the limitation on the rent increase based on an opportunity to receive a fair and reasonable return on investment, be approved for a period of one year.”

Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Florida statute allows for rent control during grave housing emergencies that constitutes a serious menace to the general public.

“Throughout several workshops, FAA and even the County’s own hired experts pointed out the realities of Florida law and the fact that Orange County’s proposal failed to meet the high bar established under statute,” White said.

Orange County Commissioner Maribel Gomez Cordero voted in support of the measure.

“The people have made it clear and despite my reservations and challenges and potential obstacles, they deserve to have a chance to decide for themselves in the form of referendum,” Cordero.

Stephanie Porta with the organization Florida Rising said there are thousands of people living in vehicles or about to get evicted.

“With the scale of this crisis, we need all of our leaders to do everything we can,” Porta said. “Which means we need to do more.”

Several groups and associations spoke against the rent control ordinance at the meeting, saying it does more harm than good.

The lawsuit cited a GAI report which concluded that the issues driving housing costs in Orange county “deeply structural and a product of regional and national market influences, likely beyond the control of local regulation.”

It said the issues stem from a lack of housing production over the years in which temporary rent ceilings would do little to correct.

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