JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith said he is fighting for renters desperate to stop their rent from rising, in a letter obtained by News4JAX sister station Click Orlando.
Nearly 24 Florida House and Senate Democrats are calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency on housing. Guillermo-Smith said the price of rent is soaring and by the turn of the new calendar year some renters in Central Florida could lose their homes.
“Floridians are facing unconscionable rent hikes,” Guillermo-Smith said.
In a letter from the group of Florida democrats, they requested the governor to take immediate action.
“We are calling on Gov. DeSantis to declare a housing state of emergency and use his authority to direct the Attorney General to use the existing statutory consumer protection against price gouging to offer renters relief,” Guillermo-Smith said.
Cities across the nation are dealing with this issue.
“We hear from constituents all the time they were used to a rent increase of anywhere from 3-5% year over year, but that’s not what experiencing right now, they are seeing 10-20-30% rent,” he said.
Martez Florence said he is a renter and it’s a predicament he hopes he won’t have to face.
“If our rent just shot up we would be like, ‘well peace,’” Florence said.
DeSantis’ office pushed back on the issue and said it is a nationwide problem that must be addressed at the federal level. In the letter to the Governor, the group detailed the surge Floridians have seen over the months.
“We have seen that in Central Florida on average rents are increasing by 20% since about January, down in south Florida we’ve seen an average increase of about 14% and in Tampa Bay, we’ve seen almost a 25% increase on rent,” he said.
Guillermo-Smith urges Gov. DeSantis to classify anything above 10% as price gouging and to enforce the laws on the books that protect renters.
“The landlords are charging people too much money, you move here and you are just caught in the gauntlet,” Florence said.
Lawmakers may take this measure up during the 2022 session.