Appeals Court Blocks Rent Control Measure

Appeals Court Blocks Rent Control Measure

By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — Less than two weeks before Election Day, a divided appeals court has rejected an Orange County ballot measure aimed at imposing rent controls.

A panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision Thursday, sided with the industry group Florida Realtors and the Florida Apartment Association, which sought a temporary injunction to block the measure.

With voters already casting ballots by mail and at early voting sites, the appeals court said that, at a minimum, it anticipates “the results of the ballot initiative will not be certified.” The court pointed, in part, to a 1977 state law designed to prevent rent control and said Orange County had not met requirements to justify its proposal.

The Orange County Commission in August passed an ordinance that put the measure on the ballot. But the court said, in part, the ordinance’s findings did not illustrate an “existing housing emergency” as required by law.

“While we do not minimize the evidence supporting a complex, multifaceted issue affecting renters in Orange County, it was insufficient under the law to support a rent control measure,” said the 34-page majority opinion, written by Judge Dan Traver and joined by Judge Meredith Sasso.

Also, the majority said the ballot summary — the wording that people see when they vote — did not adequately describe the measure.

“The summary is misleading not because of what it says, but because of what it does not say,” Traver wrote “Critically, the ordinance purports to control rent in two ways. The first restricts the frequency of rental increases to one time per twelve-month period. The second limits the amount of these increases by tying them to the Consumer Price Index. The ballot summary, however, only advises the voter about the amount of rent control, but not its frequency. This omission is confusing because the chief purpose of the initiative is rent control, but the ballot summary misleads on how the ordinance will effectuate this purpose. It does not, in other words, accurately advise a voter about the ordinance’s scope.”

But Judge Jay Cohen dissented, writing that the county “presented a plethora of facts supporting its position that a housing crisis exists in Orange County, an emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public.”

“Realtors do not dispute that, as a result of the affordable housing shortage, families are struggling to afford essential life necessities, from food and utilities to medical expenses, at the same time that the decreased ability to pay for transportation affects employment opportunities,” Cohen wrote in a seven-page dissent. “These are not simply statistics; these factual findings reflect real people facing rent hikes that are not only historic, but which dwarf prior records and show no signs of abating given the undisputed population growth and housing shortage.”

Cohen also disagreed on whether the ballot wording is misleading, citing a 75-word limit on such summaries.

“Here, the ballot summary clearly sets out the main purpose of the ordinance — to limit rent increases for certain residential rental units to not exceed the Consumer Price Index,” Cohen wrote. “The frequency with which such rent can be increased over the one-year time frame allowed by law is not the chief purpose of the ordinance; nor does the absence of those details render the summary misleading. Simply put, under Florida law, the ballot summary did not have to contain every detail or ramification of the ordinance to provide its chief purpose within the 75-word limit.”

Orange County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Ashton in September denied the motion for a temporary injunction, though he concluded that the plaintiffs had a “substantial likelihood of succeeding” in the challenges to the ordinance and ballot summary, according to the appeals court. Thursday’s decision overturned the denial of the temporary injunction.

13 Responses to "Appeals Court Blocks Rent Control Measure"

  1. Edward’s post clairified in my mind that the total subject matter of “rent control” is a 100% leftist dream of three things:
    1) vote buying by making less fortunate voters think they care
    2) just another step in the leftist unrelenting march for more control over their subjects lives
    And finally locally:
    3) a method to get campaign contributions by awarding contracts to compilant construction business’ which may have relatives on local commissions who may also be running for a top local office like…oh I dont know…maybe Mayor?

    Y’all need to let that Doke contribution go. It’s clearly BS because Y’all tippy toe ever so gracefully around the percentage wise exact same donations for FAMU and TCC. Yeah y’all dont want to talk about those donations do you?

    Vote carefully Tallahassee/ Leon.

  2. Let us be clear, the govt has no say in what someone is asking for the rental of their property.
    Nor do you or I, I had several rental units for 10 years, felt much better when I sold them.

  3. Notwithstanding some reasonable points made by Bobby, and an excellent addition by Dennis… I concur with Barb’s assessments on this.

    Don’t buy into the Alinsky narrative being propagated by the left… housing is not a human “right”. Unless of course you agree that it is anyone’s right to accept responsibility, embrace accountability, work hard, make smart financial choices, and buy or rent whatever home they damn well please and can afford.

    Government has but three options when it comes to “affordable housing”. They can control/approve development (under and over) based on community needs… or they can fleece taxpayers to build government-controlled projects.. or they can fleece taxpayers to subsidize willing underachievers and the lazy takers who want someone else to pay for their desires.

    Artificially inflated housing rents and prices hurts the community, but will eventually work itself out. It ends up pricing the workers out of the area, and the elites get tired of having to mow their own lawns and bag their own groceries… oh, and just wait until there’s no one to froth-up their $12 cup of Starbucks mud.

  4. Rent should NEVER be controlled by the government unless it’s government housing! Rental rates are high because property taxes, insurance, utilities, services, etc have increased significantly over the last several years.

  5. There is no money tree but there is a printing press. The Federal government is spending way more money (on Ukraine, student loan forgiveness, the list goes on and on) than it collects in taxes so they are printing the money to make up for the difference.

    When too much money is printed, the money supply is inflated and there are more dollars circulating than goods available. Therefore, the prices for goods (including rent) go up.

    This created inflation hurts everyone, with the poor suffering the most. The President and Congress (both sides of the aisle) need to stop spending us into out-of-control inflation and bankruptcy.

    Inflation and resulting higher prices (including rent) has nothing to do with greedy (fill in the blank with your favorite scapegoat). BTW, greed is nothing new and we haven’t had an inflation problem in decades.

  6. There is just so much blood these greedy landlords can squeeze out of people. The majority of them are tapped out and are living off of credit cards just to have a roof over their heads, working several jobs. Expect homelessness to skyrocket at the start of 2023, many which will be
    the disabled and retired living on a fixed income which doesn’t keep up,

  7. So..if the rent an owner may charge for the use of his property will be set by government, will the fees charged by the lawn service, A/C repairman, painters, carpenters and others that maintain the rental property be set by the government as well?

  8. The open and free market should have 100% control over rent. But not just rent everything. Government has no business getting involved in what the public pays for anything.

  9. The $27 million for Doak goes right through on a 7-5 vote and the people of Orange County don’t even get a say on this measure. Sad and bad — a cautionary tale about developer political control.

  10. Few things. Some of those that have left comments do not have an accurate understanding of both inflation influences, trends that maintain inflationary pressures, or the underlying reasons behind Florida’s unprecedentedly high rental rates.
    On average normal renters are not the problem and are not usually targeted by such measures. Mainly out of state monopolies that target and purchase low income housing and then price gouge.
    In terms of inflation, policies by the previous administration to create stimulus, the current to increase it long term, the fed’s anxiety to lower rates all have there share of the blame.
    However the main issue falls on those that control prices for common goods, have direct daily access to consumers, and face no treat of oversight or enforcement. I.E. many corporate entities.
    Sad but periods of inflations tend to last long due to greed.
    Take as old as time

  11. Screw rent control. How much should I be allowed to rent my home? Answer, for as much as I can get. If you are low income, Florida isn’t a good choice for you. Liberal politicians, slip and fall attorneys and $15 minimum wage have made this state expensive. If you cannot afford rent, axe the person in the mirrow why.

  12. “…as a result of the affordable housing shortage, families are struggling to afford essential life necessities, from food and utilities to medical expenses,…”

    I don’t think so; this is how I see it. Families are struggling to afford essentials due to inflation caused by the Federal Reserve printing money night and day to pay for Federal government out of control spending.

    The very definition of inflation is to inflate the money supply which is what the Federal Reserve is currently doing to pay the bills our Federal government is incurring. The effects of this created inflation is felt by all of us at the grocery store, the gas station, by the rent we pay, by rising interest rates which affect the affordability of housing, etc.

    Rent control may be well intended but does not work out in the long term. Because of inflation, the owners will not be able to maintain the property properly with the rents they are allowed to collect. The property falls into a state of disrepair and may eventually be abandoned. Then nobody else wants to build and invest in rental property because people want a return on their investment, not have their money effectively confiscated.

    That’s my understanding of how it works.

  13. Awful for consumers. Rent is artificially high in Florida due to corporate semi-monopoly landlord consolidation and algorithmic rent increases.

    Locally we should look at something like this if you’re interested in cooling down the rental market, and lowering prices so regular folks can afford to live decently.

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