PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Marc Jacobs and his fiancée Rivkah Kranz have lived in their apartment complex near Boynton Beach for two years. In fact, they were about to sign a new lease on the two-bedroom unit when they received their "sticker shock" of a monthly rent increase.
"This was stuck in our door," Jacobs said, pointing to the notice.
It's a piece of paper that revealed just how much their rent is increasing.
"Before, we were paying — our base rent was $1,745 — and we got a notice on our door a couple of weeks ago that our rent was going up to $2,540, thereabouts," he said.
Some wonder if it's legal. Under state law, it is. The law exempts luxury apartments from rent control.
So, what defines luxury? According to the law from the 1970s, it's anything in excess of $250 a month.
According to Florida Atlantic University economist Ken Johnson, from an economic perspective, rent controls send a message to potential developers.
"If you think about it, what we're saying is, we're going to tell developers, 'We want you to develop, but we want you to constrain your rents.' So how are they going to make a return?" he said.
Johnson said the rent control issue comes up every time we get to the peak of a housing cycle.
"Rents become expensive. Home ownership becomes expensive," he said. "We talk about unaffordability, and there's really nothing you can do about it at this last moment. There's a fever in the housing economy, if you will, and we've just got to let it pass."
That's a tough pill to swallow for Jacobs and Kranz. Both have new jobs and raises but said they're priced out of buying a home, for now, leaving them with few options.
"We're going to be able to afford rent, but I feel like we are still poor than we were before we got our raises, before we got new jobs," Kranz said. "The only reason we can stay here is because we were able to get these new jobs."
One exemption to the spike in rents would be if a housing emergency is declared. Even that would come with limits.