HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Rent prices are increasing faster in Tampa Bay than almost anywhere else in the country and the world and it’s greatly impacting those forced to rent apartments, homes, and condos across Florida.
Heather DeRigo lives in Carrollwood and contacted ABC Action News after she received a notice from her apartment complex that made her heart sink.
“To be quite honest the first thing I did was cry because I thought what am I going to do?” she told ABC Action News reporter Sarah Hollenbeck.
DeRigo’s rent is going up from $1,007 a month to $1,500 a month (once fees are added) when her lease expires this April. That represents a more than 30% hike.
“It’s a huge jump for me. I feel more than frustrated. I feel a sense of desperation,” she explained.
Crstyal Robles knows that feeling too. She’s spent three months desperately searching for a new apartment. “You have to have two or three jobs and with this rate increase you’ve gone up $500-600 and it doesn’t matter where you are in the city,” she said.
According to ApartmentList.com, the average studio apartment in Tampa is now costing on average of $1,762 a month. A one-bedroom is averaging $1,836. A two-bedroom is $2,275 on average. A 3-bedroom is averaging $2,895 a month.
So, what rights do renters have? ABC Action News took your concerns to real estate attorney Stephen Hachey.
“There are no rent control laws in the state of Florida as of right now. I know there are some being discussed in St. Pete and Tampa, however, we get multiple calls a day from tenants asking hey my landlord is raising my rent $500. Can they do this? Ultimately my answer is: Have you reviewed the lease?”
Hachey says when your lease is up, and if you can swing it, opt for a long-term lease option like a two-year term.
“Possibly ask for a discount if you’re going to sign a long-term lease because as a landlord the worst thing you could do is have a vacant property,” he added.
Hachey also says while insurance and taxes have increased for landlords, he thinks many may be increasing costs because the market is allowing them to.
“While property taxes and insurance have increased, they have not increased to the amount that the landlord is increasing the rental prices for the properties,” he explained.
You can also remind your landlord of your reliable payment history and your upkeep of the property, although that may not make a difference with a bigger, corporately-owned apartment.
That’s what DeRigo found with her apartment management who turned down her requests to compromise on a lower amount.
Now, DeRigo is exploring her options and hoping she can find something more affordable. In the meantime, she’s also reaching out to local and state leaders to push for better protections for renters against these monumental increases.
“You can’t have a system that is just raising prices that high at a quick jump there’s no other assistance available and you’re expecting the community to just follow suit because that’s the way it is. It’s not sustainable,” she added.