Residents rally behind new bill that aims to combat raising rents in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — Renters and activists gathered Thursday in support of a new bill that could bring rent control to Central Florida.

Florida state law makes it difficult for cities and counties to put in rental regulations, including rent control, but a new bill filed in the Legislature could change that.

WFTV reporter Cierra Putman spoke with supporters at a rally in downtown Orlando who said their goal is to allow cities and counties to be able to discuss this option.

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The average rent price in Orlando is close to $1,400 a month, according to Rent Cafe.

Attendees at the rally were talking about how rent prices in downtown Orlando and other parts of Central Florida keep increasing. They said this new bill will allow cities and counties to see if some units should be under rent control.

Orange County resident Charlotte "Cha Cha" Davis said she currently lives in a hotel after being evicted last month.

“A higher increase in people now are living in hotels because it's easier to come up with the money to move into a hotel than the money to move into a place," Davis said.

Davis said she supports more rights for renters, including rent control.

Florida law only allows counties and cities to implement rental regulations "to eliminate an existing housing emergency," and what's passed must "expire within one year and shall not be extended or renewed.”

"You can't test policy in a year. You've got to give it time to shine,” said state Rep. Ana Eskamani.

Eskamani filed the bill last week in the House that crosses out and eliminates the one-year restriction.

“So no one has to worry about rent control going into place without due diligence,” Eskamani said. “It simply puts local control back to your city. They can debate this issue."

Davis is hopeful the bill could mean relief for renters like herself.

“Not only am I hopeful, but I’m going to organize our communities to come forth and tell their stories,” Davis said.

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