ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA — Rent control could make its debut in Florida this fall, after the Orange County commission voted to pass an ordinance that will add the policy to the ballot for voters in November. The ordinance, which utilizes the synonymous term “Rent Stabilization,” passed by a vote of 4-3 on Tuesday, August 9. Orange County is the state’s fifth most populous county and includes the city of Orlando.
Common in major metropolitan areas, rent control is not a new concept. However, up to this point, it has failed to take root in the Sunshine State. Supporters of the policy say it is necessary to prevent rent increases that could force residents out from their dwellings. Critics decry the principle of government disrupting the free market and argue it fails to fix the problem.
The county hired engineering and planning company GAI Consultants to conduct an independent study analyzing the issue. The report, shared by Channel 13 News in Orlando, determined that the issue is “likely beyond the control of local regulation.” It also pointed to states like California, New York and Massachusetts, where similar policies have been in place for years and residents still struggle with high rent and cost of living.
“I think the appropriate statement is that rent controls really don’t work anywhere,” Dr. Owen Beitsch, a senior advisor in the report, told Channel 6. “It tends to discourage further investment in this marketplace.”
Analysis from the Manhattan Institute published in 2020 found that rent control makes it harder to find affordable housing. The analysis cites a 2012 poll from the University of Chicago in which 81% of economists disagreed with a statement that rent control had a “positive impact over the past three decades on the amount and quality of broadly affordable rental housing in cities that have used them.” Just 2% of the economists agreed with the statement. Additionally, artificial constraints on rent often removes the incentive for landlords to maintain higher standards of upkeep for their units.
“I don’t want to regulate rent. I don’t want to control landlords. I’m actually trying to find a solution for our housing problem,” Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe told Channel 6. However, rent control measures could be seen as a form of regulation, since they are government policies that restrict what private landlords can do with their properties.