(WSVN) - The cost of everything seems to be going up, and in South Florida, that is especially true when it comes to rent. The market is so hot, many people are getting “Priced Out of Paradise.” Kevin Ozebek has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Deanna Hendrickson, flight attendant: “This would be my favorite thing, just the angel on top, honestly.”

Her Christmas tree is topped and decorated, but Deanna Hendrickson is wondering if this will be the last holiday in her Coral Springs apartment.

Deanna Hendrickson: “I’m stressing out, figuring out, do I stay here? Do I move?”

If she renews her lease for this unit she shares with her two boys, she’ll have to shell out an additional $500 a month.

Deanna Hendrickson, flight attendant: “I was like, that’s ridiculous. I’ve never seen a price go that high.”

Ryan Rea already made his move. He just rented this downtown Miami apartment.

Ryan relocated from a one-bedroom a few blocks away because the landlord was raising his rent by $1,000 a month.

Ryan Rea, digital marketing professional: “I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ Like, the unit is nice, but it needs a lot of work updating all of that, and it’s not worth $3,100. It’s just not.”

Deborah Pollock also just had to move. She left her Collins Avenue apartment in Miami Beach because the rent was raised $1,300 a month.

Kevin Ozebek: “When you heard a $1,300 monthly increase, what was your initial reaction?”

Deborah Pollock, CFO for biotech company: “We could get a lot more for that money, not realizing that you can’t. Not in the market now.”

To figure out why these three South Floridians got hit with such hefty rent hikes, we turned to Florida International University’s Ned Murray.

Ned Murray, FIU professor: “At this point, the Miami market is the most unaffordable in the country, so you could go anywhere and be better off than in Miami right now.”

Despite an ever-growing Miami skyline, Professor Murray says the supply of apartments is not even close to meeting the demand.

This is what really concerns him: in the past year, rental prices in South Florida have surged 30%. Wages, though, have only ticked up about 2%.

Ned Murray: “The economic impact of that is significant.”

His data shows, since the pandemic, 200,000 more South Floridians are spending half or more of their income on rent.

Professor Murray says they’re likely to leave South Florida.

Ned Murray: “Their quality of life just vanishes at that point.”

Unlike some states, Florida has no rent cap laws.

Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani: “Landlords have a lot of leeway in increasing rents.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani is trying to change that with House Bill 60-17. If passed, it will be easier for county or city governments in Florida to set limits on how much rents can be raised.

Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani: “Way too many lawmakers do not care about renters. They focus on property rights but not renters’ rights, so we are trying to change that culture.”

As for our renters, Deborah is relieved she found her new apartment in the nick of time.

Kevin Ozebek: “How close would you say you were to saying goodbye to South Florida?”

Deborah Pollock: “Very close. I found this place at the end of October. We had to be out of the other place Nov. 30, so had I not found this, I’m not so sure we’d be standing here talking right now.”

Ryan actually loves all the construction around his new place. He thinks the more apartments built, the cheaper they’ll become.

Kevin Ozebek: “So, from your balcony, do you actually see the solution being built in front of your eyes?”

Ryan Rea: “I think so, yes.”

Since we met Deanna, she has continued searching for a new apartment.

Deanna Hendrickson: “Yeah, it is a bit depressing.”

But she has yet to find a place that’s a fit for her and her boys, so she’s planning to work extra hours to afford where they live now. It is how she’ll ride out what’s now the worst market for renters in America.

Rep. Anna Eskamani has proposed her rent control bill in past years, but it has always been struck down.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

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