As battles over rent control policies flare up nationwide, Florida legislators are seeking to ban the practice in their state. A bill was recently introduced in the Florida senate that aims to produce more affordable housing and prohibit local governments from enacting rent control laws. Instead of simply forbidding rent control policies, the legislation offers alternative solutions for affordable housing, such as changes to zoning and tax incentives for developers. As it currently stands, Florida has a statewide pre-emption on municipalities enacting rent control unless the city declares a housing emergency. If an emergency is declared, the city can put the policy up for a public vote.
The Live Local Act would provide tax breaks to encourage developers to build and set aside more affordable housing and increase funding for existing state affordable housing programs. The zoning tweaks would encourage more mixed-use developments in commercial areas and improve public access to information about expedited permitting. Affordable housing advocates aren’t thrilled with the legislation, especially the rent control ban and lack of renter protections.
The proposed legislation escalates a rent control fight brewing in Florida. Despite a temporary injunction, voters approved a ballot measure last November for imposing rent control in Orange County. The county’s commissioners voted to appeal the court ruling last year. Six states and Washington, D.C., have municipalities where some form of residential rent control is in effect, while 37 states either prohibit or pre-empt the policies. Rent control is a hot-button topic that’s being widely debated right now, but many economists say it generally reduces the quality and quantity of rental housing. There may be better ways to address affordable housing shortages, but multifamily owners may still have to contend with the push for rent stabilization policies in many jurisdictions soon.