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Priced out of paradise: Will Florida lawmakers pass rent control measures?

'There's really not much anyone can do,' attorney says
Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 18:12:57-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rental costs have skyrocketed this past year by as much as 30 percent.

Many residents are asking: why is this legal?

RELATED: County-by-county resources for renters facing eviction

Legally, there is nothing stopping landlords from raising the rent on a new lease. However, legislators are trying to attack the issue with a bill filed recently.

"My rent is going up $350 a month," said renter Pamela Blom.

Pamela Blom, renter
Pamela Blom shares her struggles with rising rent costs.

Blom said her rent is increasing by 29 percent.

"It's criminal to raise somebody's rent that amount of money a month," Blom said.

Attorney Denita Jones with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County said she empathizes with renters, but it's not illegal for landlords to increase prices.

"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.

Attorney Denita Jones, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Attorney Denita Jones explains that landlords can pretty much charge whatever prices they desire with little oversight.

The Florida Attorney General's office says the following:

  • The state's price gouging laws only apply in a declared state of emergency
  • What's covered by that statute must "be essential and necessary for use as a direct result and in the impacted area of the particular emergency."

"I know there are legislators out there that know and see this as a problem currently, and it is a priority," said Jennifer Sellars with The Lord's Place, a West Palm Beach nonprofit that prevents homelessness.

Sellars explains that Senate Bill 580 aims to put in rental control measures, but the bill still has a long way to go.

"Many people are looking for other options, other housing options which are few and far between," Sellars said.

Click here for county-by-county resources for renters facing eviction.