'Overvalued' Florida cities have become ground zero for 'crippling' rent hikes

'Overvalued' Florida cities have become ground zero for 'crippling' rent hikes
Miami's South Beach in May 2015, Wikimedia Commons

Brooklyn-based activist Jimmy McMillan is typically referring to his adopted home, New York City, when he declares that “the rent is too damn high,” but his words apply to many other places as well — including his home state of Florida. According to a newly released study on rising rents in the United States, some of the worst rent hikes are occurring in parts of the Sunshine State.

The study was conducted by the Florida Atlantic University College of Business along with Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Alabama.

Reporting on the study, the Tampa Bay Times’ Bernadette Berdychowski explains, “In the 25 most overvalued rental markets, the leading five were all in Florida. Tampa Bay ranked third. Tampa Bay rents are at a 17% premium, meaning that average prices should be closer to $1732 a month based on the area’s long-term trends, but they’re currently closer to $2029.”

Berdychowski adds, “Miami is the most overvalued rental market in the U.S., with a 21.75% premium, followed by Fort Myers, 18.16%; Tampa Bay, Sarasota, 16.98%; and Port St. Lucie, 15.61%.”

Berdychowski cites Orlando, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Melbourne (not to be confused with the Australian city) and Lakeland as other Florida cities included in the study’s 25 most overvalued rental markets.

In a statement on the report, Ken H. Johnson —an economist at Florida Atlantic University —explained, “Florida is a popular destination under normal circumstances, and it’s even more desirable now because its pandemic policies strongly favored consumers and businesses. Landlords can charge exorbitant rents because if the existing tenants do not accept the new lease terms, other people will accept them quickly.”

University of Alabama finance professor Bennie Waller noted how much of a hardship it can be when people have to move because of dramatic rent increases — especially in light of rising gas prices. When people search for more affordable housing in suburban areas, Waller points out, they end up paying more for gas.

“Moving to cheaper areas still involves higher costs,” according to Waller. “This is crippling to the average person on Main Street.”

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