Orange County commissioners stall on deciding if rent control will be on the ballot

·2 min read

Those waiting for rent relief will have to wait a bit longer.

Orange County commissioners held a special meeting Thursday to talk about ways to control exploding rents. But they could not reach a final decision after more than three hours of discussion.

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While a tenant’s bill of rights and a notice for rent increases are moving forward, there are still a lot of specifics that must be ironed out before voters find out whether or not rent control will be on the November ballot.

Despite dozens of people demanding cheaper rents, commissioners could not decide how they wanted to move forward with the language for putting rent control on the ballot.

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One of the factors that commissioners are considering is how much landlords will be allowed to raise their tenants’ rent.

Commissioners Emily Bonilla and Nicole Wilson want to cap rent increases at 5%, but commissioners Christine Moore and Victoria Siplin do not.

Moore said a lack of available housing is one of the reasons behind the county’s high rent costs.

“We need to be cognizant (that) the landlord didn’t ask the insurance or taxes to go up or for houses to go up,” Moore said. “We don’t have enough supply.”

When they couldn’t agree, they moved on to the next topic -- how much it will cost to draft a policy. So far, more than $60,000 have been spent on consultants.

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They moved forward without a consensus.

Several commissioners said they felt unprepared for the work session.

“I don’t mean to glaze over this, but I just think it would’ve been really nice to have this ahead of time,” Wilson said.

The next work session for rent control is scheduled for July 26, and a decision must be made by then if the topic is to be on the November ballot.

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Mayor Jerry Demings said that no matter the outcome, he wants the commissioners to get it right so they can avoid going to court and people can get much-needed relief.

“We will come up with an even equation -- the landlords and the tenants,” Demings said. “And we will come up with something balanced.”

Commissioners agreed to move forward on the tenant bill of rights, but it will be a while before it has the potential to pass.

The next work session, which will further discuss the tenant bill of rights, is set for September.

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