Duval County

Jacksonville housing expert says rent increasing on average by $500/month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The United States is seeing the highest inflation increase in 40 years with no decline in sight for now. During the last 12 months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported inflation jumped by 7.5%. The biggest contributors to the spike: food, electricity and shelter.

“It’s just a lot to deal with right now, on top of that with a little girl,” one woman told Action News Jax reporter Meghan Moriarty. She is a single mother who lives at the Coventry Park Apartments on the Southside of Jacksonville.

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She wanted to remain anonymous, because she fears retaliation, but said she was originally told her rent would only increase by $60 each month. “I was like, ‘Oh, OK, like that’s fine,’ and then they send it and it’s like over $400 more. That’s when I was like, ‘That’s too much money.’”

Moriarty reached out to Coventry to ask about their rent increase. The complex on the Southside referred her to corporate. The woman who answered the phone at the corporate office took a message, but Moriarty has not heard back.

“I’m like. why did it go up so much after you told me it was like $60? They were like, ‘it’s the industry,’” the woman said, regarding her conversation with the leasing office.

“They told me that I either have to turn in the key the same day or... start paying $200 every month until somebody rent my apartment,” the woman said. “Or, I can just like break the lease.” Breaking the lease would cost her thousands.

This single mother isn’t the only one dealing with price hikes. According to Zumper, an online site for renters to finds houses, rooms or condos, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment is up by 17%, and two-bedroom apartment prices have increased by 19%.

Jacksonville-based realtor Kelsey Ebarb-Rembold said, on average, a two-bedroom apartment is costing between $1,800 to $1,900. Previously, people could have gotten away with $1,300.

“Five-hundred is kind of our average number that we are seeing people increasing it by,” Ebarb-Rembold said. “It’s increased significantly.”

Ebarb-Rembold adds that both the pandemic and supply and demand play a huge role in all of this.

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“The rent spike has everything to do with the sense that there’s not enough homes to buy,” she said. “We’ve got so many people who are coming from up North, or from the Midwest, or even from people from the West. They are kind of in a sense saying, ‘Hey, we need all these homes,’ and there’s just not the inventory to keep up with that.”

As a result, it’s a domino effect. COVID-19 impacted the economy. Now that things are up and running again, supply and demand don’t match up.

“Because if there’s not enough homes to buy, their next thought is, ‘Well, I wanna live in Florida, so I guess I’ll rent temporarily,’” Ebarb-Rembold said. “A smart investor, like any smart business person, is saying, ‘OK, supply is low. Demand is high. I’m gonna raise up those rent prices.’”

Ebarb-Rembold recommends talking with your landlord one-on-one or seeking legal help if you can’t afford your new rent. She said the silver lining for buyers is that interest rates are low.