ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The cost of rent is a continuing crisis across Orange County, and commissioners met to discuss solutions on Thursday morning.

What You Need To Know

  • Orange County commissioners are holding a special session at 9 a.m. Thursday

  • Their agenda lists Rent Stabilization Ordinance and Tenant Bill of Rights as topics for discussion

  • Lengthy meetings on the topic have already taken place, with no final action, as members consider rent control measures

  • RELATED COVERAGE: Orange County commissioners run out of time to reach consensus on rent control

On the 9 a.m. meeting’s agenda were a Rent Stabilization Ordinance and Tenant Bill of Rights. In prior meetings so far, hours-long talks on the topics have passed without any final action as rent control measures were pitched.

"We have to do something in our community — it's obvious the rent prices have gone through the roof," Orange County Jerry Demings said. "We are listening, we are listening to both sides of the equation — the landlords and the tenants here — and we will come up with something that will be balanced in our approach."

In April, Commissioner Emily Bonilla suggested a cap on rent for properties with four or more units; her idea is to keep them from raising the price of rent by 5% or the 12-month Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.

Florida law does allow for rent control, but only in situations that are considered emergencies. While Orange County has a rising eviction rate, a recent study by consultants brought in by commissioners did not support rent control when it did not find a rise in homelessness, among other factors.

However, some commissioners took issue with the study and how homelessness was measured.

During Thursday's meeting, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to come back for a work session after staff members do more research on whether the county can enact a rent stabilization ordinance within the restrictions of state law.

A public hearing is planned for July 26, where commission members will hear from residents about a proposed ordinance that would prohibit rent increases of more than 5% without giving tenants 60 days notice. The ordinance would also require landlords to give renters 60 days notice before terminating a month-to-month lease.

During the July 26 meeting, the commissioners will hold a work session to examine new information gathered by staff members concerning a rent stabilization ordinance.

In September, the commission also plans to hold a work session to discuss the Tenant Bill of Rights.

May Beck is one resident who says she appreciates the County Commission for looking into rent issues affecting the county.

She says she had to move back into her parents' house after her landlord upped her rent by $250 a month. In response, Beck helped found Orlando Tenant Power a few months ago to help renters with rent hikes, evictions and maintenance issues.

"I'm very, very lucky that I have a family that was able to support me during that hard time, because tons and tons of my friends were not able to do something like that," she said "They had to go into Section 8 housing, they had to move out of the county and find something that was less expensive."