TAMPA, Fla. — Kimberly Willoughby opened her lease renewal in October expecting a modest increase to keep her Tampa condo for another year.
"Oh. Oh no," she said reading over the asking price. "That can't be right."
Instead, she was offered $2,000 per month. She was previously paying $1,600 per month.
The next day, Willoughby took the lease renewal to her property manager expecting an apology for a mistake.
"He was like, 'No, no that's correct,'" she said.
Willoughby is stuck in the same boat as many Tampa Bay renters. Real estate analysts tell ABC Action News rent is higher than ever in the Tampa Bay area mostly thanks to people migrating to Florida from out of state.
The need for housing is up, but the infrastructure is not there to match.
"We're in an emergency situation now," Tampa City Council Chair Orlando Gudes said.
Gudes tells ABC Action News his phone rings off the hook with Tampa renters blindsided by their renewals on the other end.
"They just increased my rent by $800 and my paycheck hasn't changed," he said, recounting a phone conversation with a constituent. "What does my family do? Where do I go?"
Gudes addressed the issue with his fellow councilmembers, and they voted to examine rent stabilization in Tampa.
“We look at what the cost of living is, what the market is, and the inflation and we balance that out," he said.
The plan would allow the city to put a cap on how much property owners can charge their tenants, each year. As it stands now, Florida law prohibits any form of rent control, however, state voters can approve a ballot referendum to declare a housing emergency and put a temporary hold on rental spikes.
Gudes says he and city leaders are exploring the narrow avenue of opportunity.
“It’s everybody who’s hurting, right now, and we’ve just kind of got to stop the bleeding a little bit," he said.
With red-hot housing market projections continuing into mid-2022, Willoughby hopes the City of Tampa figures something out soon so she will not have to pack up and move away from the Sunshine State.
“As much as I like it here and I don’t like cold weather, I don’t know if that they increase me to $2,500 next year if I’m willing to do that.”