Florida law prohibits local governments from controlling the price of rent. Undeterred, Orange County challenged this law by placing a rent control measure on the ballot this past Tuesday. The measure, which would apply only to multifamily buildings, passed 59% to 41%.
Despite overwhelming approval for the measure, Orange County may not be able to implement it as a result of Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals’ ruling in late October that the rent control measure should have been removed from the ballot. The ballot measure stated:
“Shall the Orange County Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits rent increases for certain residential rental units in multifamily structures to the average annual increase in the 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?”
The Court held that since the ordinance did not satisfy the limited circumstances under the state law prohibiting control rent measures, the ordinance violated Florida’s Constitution:
“Florida counties that operate under county charters — like the one in this case — have the power of self-government,” the opinion reads. “But the Florida Constitution limits this power. For example, local governments cannot pass an ordinance that is inconsistent with general and special laws enacted by the Florida Legislature. Such an ordinance, by its nature, would be unconstitutional.”
The court ordered an injunction against the ballot measure, that at a minimum, will preclude the Supervisor of Elections from certifying the results. Orange County stated it will challenge the ruling. Until then Orange County cannot implement or enforce the ordinance.