Early voting just started for the 2018 general election, which means Florida is just over a month away from choosing a new governor, a new cabinet, new congressional representatives and a host of other elected officials.
It also means Floridians will soon be considering a number of constitutional amendments that could drastically impact the state and its approximately 21 million residents. Chief among those ballot considerations is Amendment 2, which seeks to preserve the 10 percent cap on annual increases of non-homestead property taxes that has been in place for the last 10 years.
Non-homestead properties are properties that don’t serve as a person’s primary residence – and rental homes are one of the largest segments of non-homestead properties in Florida. According to the most recent Census estimates, rental homes house more than one-third of the state’s population currently – the highest amount since the 1980s.
“The really scary thing about Amendment 2 failing is the domino effect that will start to ripple through our communities, starting with our renters,” says Zach Sanchez, a broker for THINK Real Estate in Panama City Beach. “Many renters live on fixed incomes and don’t have much room in their budget to absorb a rent increase that is sure to come if property owners start seeing tax increases in excess of 10 percent a year.”
Florida voters approved the current 10 percent cap in 2008 as a way to solve an ongoing property tax crisis that was punishing non-homestead property owners and renters. According to data contained in a Revenue Estimating Conference analysis conducted in 2011, 30 percent of all non-homestead Florida properties were hit with an 80 percent tax increase in just one year – from 2005 to 2006. This meant a property valued at $300,000 in one year could be taxed at $540,000 or more the next. That same year, nearly 75 percent of all non-homestead properties in the state suffered an increase of more than 10 percent in value.
“Imagine you are renting a home, trying to save up some money so you can eventually buy a home of your own,” says Sanchez. “You’ve been making some progress over the last several years because things have been relatively stable. Now the new year rolls around and your landlord is telling you the rent is going up because they just got hit with a massive property tax increase. At best, your homeownership dream is now on hold. At worst, you are packing up your family and heading to another state because Florida has become unaffordable.”
To aid in the effort to pass Amendment 2 and help avoid the looming renter crisis, Florida Realtors developed a tool kit filled with supportive images, social media content, videos and news media templates that Realtors can share with their family, friends, clients, colleagues and social media networks.
Realtors are encouraged to use these resources throughout October and early November to help educate voters in advance of the Nov. 6, 2018, general election.
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