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New housing bill passed in the Capitol seeks to ban rent control

By Abraiya Ruffin

A new bill has made its way through the Capitol and landed in the hands of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

Dubbed the “Live Local Act, ” Senate Bill 102 lays out plans to loosen rules on density and height, convert existing buildings into affordable housing and offer incentives such as tax breaks for developers. 

The most important and controversial part of this legislation is that it aims to remove the authority of local governments to maintain or adopt laws pertaining to rent control. 

This means that local leaders lose the ability to monitor the prices of rent for residents. If a property manager decides to increase the rent cap for their tenants, city officials may not impose. 

Residents like Cassidee Williams are worried that this bill could make it difficult to pay for rent, as some are already struggling to afford payments now. 

“I came up here because it is cheaper living so if that changes and I have to start paying a different amount I might as well go back home,” Williams said. She believes that rent control is important and fair for residents that are budgeting and living paycheck to paycheck. 

City Commissioner Jack Porter shared with SJGC Media how harmful SB 102 could be for low-income residents. 

“I think it is important that local home rule is respected, that local governments are able to do what they deem best to meet their local needs,” Porter said. 

Porter stated that according to polling, the city of Tallahassee knows its residents need rent controls in order to support themselves and live comfortably. 

“We know that more residents want to see rent control as an option, they want to see rent stabilization as an option, ” she added. 

Commissioner Porter also said this bill may affect budgeting within city management. 

“In case of an emergency this is just going to strain local government budgets more, this is going to cost more money, especially in assisting those that are facing eviction, sometimes unlawfully.” 

On the other side of this debate are landlords in support of the legislation as it benefits their business needs. 

Rental property manager, Joey Stein, says tenants must understand that in order to uphold their maintenance and property taxes, they may have to increase prices. 

“We wanna (want to) make sure that we are keeping up with appliances to remain a competitive and attractive rental property so letting us set those prices allows us to do that,” Stein said. 

Some benefits of the bill include a $711 million plan to fund development programs for more housing. 

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on March 29. The date for when SB 102 will take effect has not yet been determined.