Tampa housing state of emergency will be on November ballots, city council decides

Tampa voters will have the final say on whether the city declares a housing emergency, which would allow leaders to explore measures like rent control. City Council has directed city attorneys to draft a document to declare an emergency in the city. 

Council voted 6-1 in favor of adding the measure to the November ballot. 

"Based on the overwhelming evidence from both the public and private sector, I ask that the city declare a housing emergency," Gudes read from a prepared statement, adding that the current state of affordable housing "constitutes a serious menace to the general public."

Tampa has seen some of the highest rent spikes in the nation since the start of the pandemic.  With more and more people moving to the sunshine state, the Bay Area's limited housing supply has been stretched thin and renters are feeling the squeeze.  

Rent prices have shot up more than 30% in the last year and a half and in a market with less than 5% vacancy, renters have few options if they can't afford the hikes. 

The first reading of the measure is scheduled for August 4, but a draft of the proposal was already available as council entered a recess of its regular Thursday meeting.

The draft ordinance covers definitions of a housing emergency, state rules regarding rent control, and what would be done to address the surge in costs for renters. 

In a section titled "limitations on rent increases," the draft ordinance says landlords would not be allowed to increase rents more than 5% of their current monthly rates – or the average annual increase in the Consumer Price Index from the preceding year – whichever is lower. 

Read the draft ordinance:

Tampa housing crisis coverage:

Councilman Bill Carlson was the one abstention based on the likelihood of a lawsuit. 

Carlson said he did not support the measure because he felt it would "make the issue worse," saying Tampa was being made "the guinea pig" for the state in using an emergency measure to address helping residents.

Statewide, there is a law that says cities and municipalities cannot implement rent control or other restrictions unless they declare a housing state of emergency.

Tampa will now become just the second local government in Florida (Orange County voted to declare its own housing emergency earlier this week) to try what no government has attempted since the passage of the 1977 law.