JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation issued an executive order discouraging rent increases. Now the emergency rule has expired and renters are seeing what some call a spike in their rent.
"I don't want them to know that I called," said a renter wanting to go by the name "M" in fear of retaliation.
"M" said renters in a small Beach Boulevard apartment complex are now receiving notice that their rent is going up. She said she is livid and refuses to remain silent.
"This will be my second increase in three years," she said.
Her rent is going from $850 to $990 a month and failure to sign a new lease by the end of November will kick in the market rate of $1,115 a month.
"You get a 1% increase in your Social Security and that is the only income you have and this is almost 13% in rent," she said. "And that's your rent alone."
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid attorneys (JALA) told On Your Side they have received complaints about a spike in rents, despite still being in a pandemic.
"The owner says he wants to bring all of his apartments up to market value," said 'M."
JALA attorneys say if it is private housing when the lease expires neither party is bound to the terms of a new contract.
On Your Side contacted The Florida Housing Finance Corporation. A spokesperson said:
"We are still discouraging property owners and managers in our portfolio from increasing rent. We also informed them of consequences when applying for future funding with us should they decide to increase the rent.
We allocated $4.5 million to Duval County local government SHIP housing office to assist with rental and mortgage assistance through Florida Housing's Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) program that launched in August. For more information on that program click here."
On Your Side contacted the City of Jacksonville and found there are funds but very limited.
The City received $2.6 million from the Florida Housing Finance Authority for rent/mortgage assistance, of which approximately $1.7 million has been approved for over 500 applicants. Additionally, we are partnering with the Jacksonville Bar Association to launch the $5.3 million eviction assistance program this month.
The City does not have any remedies available for tenants who believe their landlord is increasing their rent too much.
To make an application click here
Since neither party is bound to the terms of a new lease with private housing the tenant can move.
In this case, the tenant is retired, living on a fixed income feels her only option is to stay.
"I'm going to have to stay," she said, " I don't have the money to move."