Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Rent control in Florida


If approved, Florida’s new bill could immediatel­y affect the Orlando area, where voters in November approved an ordinance that prevents owners of existing apartments from raising rents at a rate higher than the rate of inflation. The rent-control issue that passed in Orange County imposed a one-year, 9.8% cap on rent hikes.

South Florida, however, hasn’t had any recent similar measures, but rent control was a hot topic here decades ago.

A 1944 headline in The Miami Herald blasted: “Beach Council swamped by protests on move to end rent control” as some people slammed the “spineless city council” in Miami Beach for considerin­g the end of rent control.

At one point Miami Beach ended its rent control, but it was adopted again in 1969, then overturned by the state Supreme Court in 1972 on the grounds the Legislatur­e had not given authority to the city to control rent.

So the city came back swinging in 1974, approving a new law that said rent increases must be capped at 6% and must be first approved by the city.

Bolstered by the city’s good luck in court, Broward started to pay attention.

The city of Hallandale followed in May 1975 with a law prohibitin­g landlords from raising their rent and ordered a rollback to what tenants were paying on Dec. 31, 1974, as residents complained of rent that was escalating by double digits.

But the state took action to end that.

In 1977 the state began to pass laws about cities’ ability to impose rent control.

Florida law now requires counties to establish — with data — that there is a housing emergency to pass an ordinance, and even then it needs voter approval yearly.

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