BOCA RATON, Fla. — New research from Florida Atlantic University indicates that an abundance of short-term vacation rentals and restrictions from homeowner and condominium associations are contributing to the state's rental crisis.
Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist and Florida Atlantic University's associate dean of graduate programs, said rentals listed on Airbnb and similar websites keep units out of an already-depleted housing stock.
Many HOAs across the state also limit owners from renting their units during the first year or ban renting altogether, contributing to the housing crisis.
"Both of these take away units that could be rented to the public, and it's the shortage of available units that drives rental rates higher," Johnson said. "While developers and local governments clearly need to build more units, that's not the only solution to this problem."
The latest research found that while rent prices are easing in much of the country, Florida is still home to nine of the 21 most overpriced markets in the U.S.
Cape Coral-Fort Myers renters lead the nation in paying 18.05% above the long-term leasing trend.
Multiple other cities in Florida, including Miami, North Port, Tampa, Orlando, Deltona-Daytona Beach, Palm Bay-Melbourne, Jacksonville, Lakeland, also have some of the nation's highest rental costs.
The average rental premium paid in the U.S. is 7.40%.
FAU's data estimates that the average monthly rent in South Florida is about $400 higher than what should be expected — a 14% increase year-to-year.
"As a state, we need to realize that the current rental crisis is hurting our economic growth potential and making it increasingly difficult for service workers to live within reasonable distances of their jobs," Johnson said.
Given steep rental increases in the past two years, owners of short-term rentals may find greater returns in converting their properties to long-term rentals, according to Johnson.
He added that HOA boards choosing to relax or eliminate rental restrictions would increase property values for their residents.
Dawn Adams is among those looking for an apartment on the Treasure Coast.
"A 2/1 at this time is as high as about $2,100 to $2,500 in a nice area," Adams said.
The search for a new apartment has turned into a costly hunt for Adams, which has been frustrating.
Adams is searching for a home for her mother, who currently pays just under $800 a month in Fort Pierce.
"I think it's a situation, where not only my mother but many other citizens of St. Lucie County and Indian River County, they feel very stuck," she said.