Low salaries, high rents creating financial burdens

A recent Apartment List report has confirmed what many locals have experienced – that South Florida’s rental market is among the most expensive in the entire country. Based on data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of renters in Florida pay over 30 percent of their income towards rent. And a whopping third of Florida renters pay out more than half their income.

This challenge is more than familiar for Rhonda Chapmen, who in 2008 originally rented a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Tamarac for $1,050. Returning to South Florida in October after studies in Canada, a similar apartment in the same complex now rents for $1,550.

“As a single woman I simply cannot afford that rent compared to what I’ll be earning,” she said.

Florida ranks the worst out of all 50 states in affordable rent. The percentage of renters in Florida whose rent approximates 38 percent of their income was 57.9 percent, 6 percentage point higher than the national percentage of 51.8 percent.

The report cited Florida as “the worst state for renters”’ with the highest cost-burden reflected in Miami, where the rate is 66 percent of income.

Miami economist Brent Langley attributes the change to the area’s population growth, “with new residents pouring in either as new migrants, or transplants from other North American cities.”

The expansive population, “means more people are seeking jobs compared to available jobs,” says Langley. “This excess demand has suppressed salaries so rents are averaging 10 percent higher than average salaries. And the demand for rental property has increased with more people unable to find homes to purchase, or preferring to rent than be saddled with mortgages.”

The report did note that Plantation and Sunrise, proved to be the most affordable, while the worst offenders were Hialeah and Miami Gardens in Miami Dade, and Port St’ Lucie in Palm Beach County.

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