ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The Orange County Commission met Tuesday to address increasing rental prices and voted unanimously to enact a new rental notice ordinance.

What You Need To Know

  • Orange County leaders voted unanimously to enact a new rental notice ordinance Tuesday

  • Under the ordinance, landlords will have to give tenants written notice 60 days before increasing the rent more than 5%

  • Once the ordinance is in effect, renters will be able to report landlords or property owners who violate it by calling 311

  • RELATED: Orange County leaders meet for special session on rising rent costs

Under the new ordinance, which passed unanimously, landlords throughout the county — including all 13 municipalities — will have to give tenants written notice 60 days before increasing their rent more than 5%.

“The 60-day notice is critical," said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings in a statement. "Having this ordinance in place gives tenants time to prepare and seek alternative housing in the event that they do not wish to stay where they are currently living."

“We’ve seen similar measures adopted in Miami-Dade and Broward counties," his statement continued. "And as a Board we are confident that this ordinance will further protect our Orange County residents.”

According to information from the county, the new ordinance also provides protections for renters who do not have a written lease agreement, or those that pay their rent on a quarterly or monthly basis.

For months now, commissioners have explored ways to help struggling families pay rent and stay in their homes.

One way to do this is through rent a stabilization plan. A proposed measure would require landlords to provide at least 60 days’ notice of increasing rent by 5% or more. Officials also are considering requiring that much notice before terminating a lease.

Renters will be able to report landlords who violate the ordinance by calling 311.

"Orange County staff stands ready and prepared to educate, verify and enforce this ordinance," officials said in a release.

Ronda Wallace was one of several renters who took part in public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting, saying her family moved from the Florida Keys to Central Florida years ago because living in Orlando was more affordable. 

She said she was seeking a better life, but rental prices increases in the city have caused that dream to fade away.

Wallace said her rent has gone up $462 a month, which is about a 20% rent increase from last year.  She said the cost of housing is forcing her to make some tough choices — ones she said shouldn't have to be made by anyone.

“I have to have a roof over me and my kids head, so I have to buy less food for my children unfortunately," she said. "I have to ask neighbors who’ve all been supporting others in this community – they gave me some I give them some. But you know, it’s basically trading my stability for food stability."

Wallace is worried her family could soon get priced out of their home.  But she’s not just worried about her situation — she’s also working for Florida Rising, an organization that’s mobilizing support for rental controls, to help other renters who are struggling. 

There is strength in numbers, she said.

“We are a big group, and I’m talking about a group of Floridians, the group of my district leaders, the groups of my neighbors," she said. "That’s the group I’m talking about."

“We are all going through the same thing and it gives us strength to know that hopefully, if we come to these lawmakers, we can make a difference," she added. "Hopefully we can change something.”

Another option the Commission has considered is some sort of rent stabilization plan, but officials say there are still many questions that need to be answered before moving forward.

For instance, in June's work session, commissioners were told a measure like rent control likely would not hold up in court because of a state law already on the books.

“They’ve created some hurdles, some significant hurdles for local governments to reach,” Demings said.

“I will tell you that it is risky … and highly likely to be challenged,” county attorney Jeff Newton said.

Meanwhile, a Tenant Bill of Rights is in the works, and in a future September work session, commissioners will work on some basic rules and guidelines for renters in Orange County.

The ordinance passed Tuesday will go into effect once it has been filed with the Florida Department of State, which county officials said could take up to 10 days.