The Power is Now

Rental costs in Florida have skyrocketed in 2021 by as much as 30 percent

Homeownership Program

Author: Adriana Montes

This makes Florida a no-go zone for renters and one of the questions many people are asking is, ‘why is this legal?’

Well, legally, a landlord has the power to raise the rent on a new lease and they can do that at their will. However, in light of the current situation, legislators are trying to attack the issue through a bill filed recently.

Some renters have already experienced the rise by 29% and term this as ‘criminal’

According to Attorney Denita Jones with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, “Unless the Florida Attorney General’s Office intervenes or the legislator puts a cap on the rental increase, there’s really not much anyone can do,” Jones said.

What does rent rising in Florida Mean for the overall Housing Market?

Landlords in South Florida for long have been living in a free market where they can do as they please, they will raise their rents, and unsurprisingly find people ready to take the units. This has made them notorious and the people whose bank accounts couldn’t keep up were hastily left behind.

2021 was a hard year for many people as they tried to recover their lost jobs. Meanwhile, South Florida landlords saw this as a unique opportunity to accelerate the trend capitalizing on the fact that there are too few new apartments that have been built and affordable housing far from reach. While that is happening, renters in Florida have little to no control of the market which by the way makes Florida one of the worst places to rent. These tensions have reignited the conversation over rent control- a proposal that has always failed in the past. But seeing rent control working in other states, the situation might soon change.

In California for instance, landlords cannot raise rents anyhow! Even if they do, they cannot raise the rents more than 5-10% over the cost of living increases. This applies statewide, but local jurisdictions have their mandates over rent increases. In the cap the Free State of Florida however, rents across Palm Beach have jumped by 21% since the start of the year 2021.

This does not make any sense at all because, in areas where the economy is largely dependent on tourism, people in these areas earn low wages in the service and hospitality industry which means they are losing more on housing. In their place, there are well-moneyed tenants willing to offer more over the asking prices and sometimes provide years’ worth of upfront rent. Looking at this situation, there is simply no incentive for the landlords not to take advantage of the money being thrown at their way, especially given that housing is a basic necessity.

The current law allows landlords in Florida to set rents as they see fit. The only exception would be in instances where a “housing emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public.” Proving a housing crisis of such magnitude falls on the local governments who must then have an election to pass rent control ordinances. This would then be followed by an annual election to maintain the ordinance afterwards. So far, several bills that have been tabled at the state level to grant more control to local governments have been unsuccessful.

Opponents of the rent control trust in the free market insisting that this issue is one about quantity. If there are more buildings, there will be more competition in the market. Currently, the demand for new apartment outpaces the supply which pushes prices higher up. In Palm Beach, for instance, it is estimated that 6,600 new rental apartments are needed over the next two years. In addition, they argue that rent controls make it hard for developers and derail the economy.

Regardless, one thing is clear, Florida Renters need affordable housing. These renters are stuck in between a rock and a hard place while landlords undoubtedly continue to raise their rents. Something needs to be done to ensure that both sides can continue to live comfortably in South Florida.




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