United States

Orange County rent control votes won’t be certified. Now what?

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A stack of coins showing a calculator with a bunch of keys on a desk together with a rent increase notice letter

Orange County’s rent control ordinance has been approved by voters, but won't go into effect right away because of ongoing litigation.

Orange County Commission added the rent control measure to the ballot back in August to combat Florida’s affordable housing shortage. If approved, the measure would limit rent increases to the same percentage as the Consumer Price Index for one year.

The Florida Apartment Association and the Florida Association of Realtors filed a lawsuit, claiming that the local government had failed to declare a housing emergency “so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public” in accordance with state rent control law.

On November 3, Judge Jeffrey Ashton agreed with property owners and issued an injunction to block the rent control ordinance from taking effect, but allowed residents to vote on the controversial initiative anyway since it was too late to reprint the ballots. Shortly after Election Day, it was announced that 59% of voters had approved Orange County’s rent control ordinance – but in line with the court ruling, the result was not certified by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections or the County Canvassing Board.

For now, property owners have defended the status quo, but the fight is unlikely to be over. The court case is still pending and there’s a chance that the judge could reverse his decision. If he does, the majority on the ballot initiative may well encourage activists to try again. 

This is also just one ballot in one county – pro-rent control activists are calling for similar measures in California, Maine, Minnesota, and other states across the country. Advocacy group People’s Action met with the White House on November 14 to discuss its proposed executive order, which demands national rent control among other tenant protections. As of the release of this article, there has been no official action taken.

More election headlines

Readout of White House meeting on tenant protections and rental affordability – The White House

Voters approved more money for affordable housing around the country – NPR

Warnock and Walker’s Georgia Senate race goes into overtime as runoff begins – PBS

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