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Rent prices surge, is there a legal limit on increases?

Attorney say there is no legal limitation on how much landlords can increase rent, but your lease could help you negotiate.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The average Jacksonville renter could see a $150 rent increase the next time they renew their lease. The price surge has many renters are asking if it is legal for landlords to make steep increases.

“We have seen an uptick of people contacting our offices and asking about rent increase," Mary DeVries, attorney with the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, said.

That’s because rental prices are up almost 15% compared to last year, according to national rent report by the company Zumper.

In fact, in a majority of comments on a First Coast News Facebook post, renters saw an increase of 15% or more.

The Jacksonville Area legal aid society offers legal help on tenant-landlord cases. However, attorneys say there is no legal limitation on how much landlords can increase rent.

“In the private rental market, if the landlord wants to raise the rent, unfortunately, in Florida, there are no limitations," DeVries said.

Attorney Mary Devries says there are some things to look for in your lease that could help.

Most leases will require the landlord to keep the rate the same during the term of the agreement. Other leases might require a certain amount of notice before increasing rent.

Renters can also try to negotiate.

“Talk with their landlord, see if they can negotiate down that rent increase, agree to some type of compromise rate," DaVries said. "A landlord would not be required to do that. But if you've been a good tenant, if you pay your rent on time, certainly there could be advantages for that landlord to keep that tenant."

New laws on rent hike limitations would be the best way to stop increases. So Devries suggests renters should reach out to their local legislator.