In both Sarasota and Manatee counties, overall rent rates have jumped by almost 6 percent from June to July.

In both Sarasota and Manatee counties, overall rent rates have jumped by almost 6 percent from June to July. 

The upward spiral of rent prices has yet to reach a plateau both locally and nationally.

From June to July, the national rent index jumped another 2.5 percent. This year so far, the national median rent has increased by 11.5 percent. For comparison, from 2017 to 2019, rent growth from January to July averaged just over 3 percent.

According to a recent report by Apartment List, a national online marketplace for residential, long-term rentals, rent price growth has been outpacing prior-year averages for several months.

Local rent levels are following suit, and renters will generally find more expensive prices in Sarasota County than in many large cities, including Denver and Minneapolis. In July, the median price for a two-bedroom apartment in Sarasota County was $1,788 (last year, it was $1,490). In Manatee County, the median price for a two-bedroom rental is $1,519. In July of last year, it was $1,198. By comparison, the national median rate is $1,219. 

At 20 percent, Sarasota's year-over-year rent growth beats the state average of 18.6 percent, as well as the national average of 10.3 percent. Manatee county's median rent prices have increased by 27 percent since July of last year.

Igor Popov, chief economist at Apartment List, says, "We're getting used to seeing these numbers, but 20 percent or more growth in a year is not normal." He attributes it in part to the increased flexibility remote workers have to live anywhere.

“One trend we've been seeing is that a lot of places that were traditionally reliant on tourism and would attract seasonal business enter remote work, and cities that are great for tourism are now great for work," he says.

"People take their big city pay and move to more affordable places like Florida," he continues.

As in previous months, low residential housing inventory is to blame.

"We lease our properties as soon as they hit the market. We have renters who have sold their house to cash out in a seller's market and rent until there's a dip in prices. For others trying to buy a home, there are multiple offers and some people lose their steam when they're constantly outbid amid lots of cash buyers," says Chelsea Felts, managing broker of the rental division for Premier Sothebys.

And while rents continue to skyrocket, an eviction crisis is looming at the same time. After its previous eviction moratorium expired on July 31, the CDC has imposed a new  moratorium on evictions in areas of the country most impacted by the current surge in Covid-19 cases. (Under those guidelines, all of Florida is included.) The ban lasts until Oct. 3, but experts expect it to face legal challenges.

Congress has appropriated millions of dollars in rental assistance aid to state, county and city governments as part of the CARES Act to help states respond to the pandemic; however, the distribution of those funds has been slow to reach thousands of Florida applicants.

Still, there's no end in sight for how high rents will go.

"I don't think we'll see a slowdown before the end of the year," Felts says.

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