Around three dozen Orange County residents gathered Thursday for a town hall to voice their thoughts on the need for a rent hike cap.
What You Need To Know
- About three dozen people attended a town hall to discuss a rent hike cap in Orange County Thursday
- Several speakers spoke out in favor of a proposal to cap rent increases at 5% a year
- One property manager in attendance said the move would result in fewer renewals with increases passed onto the next renter
- If the Orange County Commission approved such a plan, it would then be voted on by residents in November
Jessy Correa, a single mother of six, was one of the speakers in attendance at the James R. Smith Community Center in Orlando.
Correa said in December her rent went up by $300 and will go up another 17% when she renews it. She said she currently pays about $2,200 for her three-bedroom apartment.
After every rent payment, she said only $400 remains to pay other expenses like food, clothes, bills and gas.
“So, it’s food over rent and those choices are hard to make," Correa said. "Even with the income that I make it’s not enough."
With the cost of living rising and her salary remaining the same, she said she hopes Orange County commissioners can approve a ballot measure that would cap rent increases to 5% a year.
If approved by the majority of the commissioners, then it would be up to county residents to pass it in November.
“We’re in a really hard situation and something needs to change,” Correa said. “Either match the income or just go ahead and put a cap to this rent increase.”
Ellen Sousa, an Orlando-Kissimmee property manager, said a cap would impact property managers too.
“If there’s a cap, a lot of the landlords are going to rather not renew and raise it to then next tenant,” she said.
Sousa said inflation and rising costs make it difficult for property managers and landlords to operate without raising rent.
“With every cost rising, how can rent not rise?" she asked. "How can they cap rent if they’re unable to cap everything else?”
The average increase of rent at her more than 200 properties was more than 15% and about 50 people were evicted for non-payment.
Sousa said she tries to work with tenants to figure out an affordable rent increase when it’s possible.
While Correa said she understands the need to find a middle ground that would satisfy both struggling renters and property owners, she said it is a challenge and something needs to changes.
It’s why she said that if Orange County commissioners don’t move forward with the measure, then she’ll find a gubernatorial candidate that will cap rent hikes.
“I want someone who actually cares and not coming with their agenda but for the agenda of the people,” she said.
Correa said if her rent does go up by 17% she would have to get a second job.
Orange County commissioners have until September to pass the measure.