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Orange County’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance and the Luxury Apartment Building Exemption

August 29, 2022

Litigation over the Rent Stabilization Ordinance is ongoing, with opponents seeking an injunction to keep the ordinance off of the November ballot. Additionally, in response to the number of inquiries that our office has received, we want to make clear that the County has not yet made a determination as to how it will be interpreting the “luxury apartment building” exemption, as defined in Florida Statutes §125.0103(4).

A reasonable interpretation mentioned in our article (and acknowledged by the County Attorney’s Office as a possible legal interpretation during the ordinance hearings process) is the $250 average rent amount cited in the statutory definition multiplied by the Consumer Price Index, which equals between $1,200 and $1,300 in present-day-dollars.

A more strict interpretation of the statutory definition of “luxury apartment building” would be that only those apartment buildings in existence on January 1, 1977 may be considered “luxury apartment buildings” and that any apartment building constructed after January 1, 1977, regardless of the building’s average rent amount, cannot be considered a “luxury apartment building”.

No Florida court has yet interpreted the present-day meaning of “luxury apartment building”, and it is unclear which interpretation a court would adopt. The County is seeking a non-binding interpretation of the statutory definition from the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.

Becky  Wilson is chair of the firm's Land Use, Zoning and Environmental Group. She represents property owners, developers, lenders and other development participants with issues related to zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, administrative law, Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s), procurement issues, due diligence and property rights.

As early as sixth grade, Becky advocated for the causes she believed in. Her concern about nuclear waste and water contamination in her hometown of Dothan, Alabama – and her thorough research – promoted her to press a state legislator with questions in the school auditorium. Having grown up in the South, Becky got in trouble for questioning authority – yet that life experience served her well.

After clerking for a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Becky landed in Orlando, quickly building a reputation at Lowndes for being thorough, outspoken, and a tireless advocate for clients. She ultimately found her niche in land use, collaborating with architects, transportation engineers and local governments to move her clients’ projects – and Central Florida – forward. Becky became one of the youngest female shareholders at the firm. Today, she is Chair of the Land Use, Zoning and Environmental Group.

Her clients include property owners, developers, lenders and other participants in the development of high-rise, hotels, planned communities, large “power-centers,” mixed-use projects, office buildings and big box commercial projects, projects within historic districts, multi-family developments, senior living, and affordable housing. Becky works closely with the local government entities to address the needs of her clients related to zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, administrative lawDevelopments of Regional Impact (DRI’s), procurement issues, due diligence, and property rights.

Undoubtedly, Becky’s diligence, activism and Southern charm were responsible in part for her appointment as chair of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Central Florida District Council, a global multidisciplinary real estate organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the responsible use of land, and creating and sustaining thriving communities.

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