Tampa Bay saw biggest rent hikes in US this year

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Tampa Bay claimed more than a Super Bowl this year, leading the nation on rent increases in the months after its hometown Buccaneers led the National Football League.

CoStar Group data shows rents in the metro area increased 24 percent, on average, over the last 12 months, according to the Tampa Bay Times. That’s the most for any city with at least 100,000 apartments.

Landlords in the region along Florida’ gulf coast have had room to hike rents because of unprecedented demand, thanks in large part to new residents looking for cheaper costs of living, fewer pandemic restrictions, and the warmer climate. Strong demand is also driving rising home prices.

“You have would-be homebuyers being priced out of the market” and remaining renters longer, said Tampa-based CoStar senior market analyst Erin Amon-Surlis “It’s kind of a perfect storm of all those supply constraints… combined with strong demand.”

In terms of dollar amounts, landlords raised annual rents by about $315, to around $1,600 on average . Some neighborhoods saw more significant hikes — prices in West Tampa rose 29 percent.

The Tampa Bay metro area–which includes the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, along with various suburbs–remains relatively cheap compared to most other parts of the country. They’re still $200 under the national average and $2,000 below market such as New York City.

Incomes are not rising at the same rate however, putting the squeeze on lower income residents. Aloha Kelm, who lives in a 55-plus mobile park home in the Town ‘n’ Country neighborhood of suburban Tampa, said it is probably the only place she could afford to live in the area.

“A lot of people are moving in and sharing expenses with each other because the rents in all these darn places are just unreal,” Kelm said.

That means there is also strong demand to buy rental properties. Colliers International managing director Shawn Rupp said buyers outnumber sellers “20-plus to one.”

Downtown Tampa is also undergoing a transformation. Massive development projects such as Strategic Property Partners 56-acre Water Street Tampa development have the potential to draw in an even wealthier crowd, which could in turn drive demand for housing in the wider area.