ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A judge blocked an effort to remove a rent control measure from the November ballot in Orange County.
The measure could control how much landlords can raise rent for one year. A circuit court judge is leaving the decision up to Orange County voters.
The ruling says, “There is public good in the democratic process -- and the public interest is rarely served by removing contentious issues from public debate.”
Commissioners approved the language for the ballot last Friday.
If passed, it would limit rent increases on certain multi-residential rental units, set according to the consumer price index.
The county would also have the ability to create a process for landlords to request an exception to the cap, based on an opportunity to receive a reasonable return on investment.
Commissioner Nicole Wilson says she’s not surprised by the judge’s decision.
“I think the opponents of this measure were probably going to file this no matter what,” she said. “But there was so much effort from the legal department and our staff to make sure we weren’t running afoul of the state constitution or the state statute that I was confident in it’s legality.”
The judge did decide that the ballot statement is invalid. The ruling states “it has a failure to inform the public that the ordinance would criminalize previously lawful conduct.”
A violation of the ordinance can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and result in a jail sentence of up to 60 days.
In a statement, Florida Realtors said:
“Florida Realtors is disappointed in this decision. As the judge recognized, the Orange County rent control ordinance and its ballot summary are invalid and unlawful, and that is why Florida Realtors plans to pursue an expedited appeal to reverse this decision and obtain a preliminary injunction.”
©2022 Cox Media Group