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Hillsborough County Commissioners pass new ordinance to protect renters

The housing crisis in the Bay area is no secret, skyrocketing rental prices are leaving people across Hillsborough County scrambling.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — On Wednesday the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance to give renters more time when rent goes up.

"It is becoming incredibly difficult for people to find a place, and then ultimately we end up with families that are potentially homeless for a period of time,” Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners Chair Kimberly Overman said.

The housing crisis in the Bay Area is no secret, skyrocketing rental prices are leaving people across Hillsborough County scrambling.

"My heart breaks when an 81-year-old lady called me and said, 'I've lived in my apartment for 10 years.' Now they raise the rate $400 more," Affordable housing advocate Chloe Coney said. "Where does she go?"

Under the new ordinance, landlords are required to give a 60-day notice if rent increases are higher than 5 percent, a 30-day notice of lease ending for those who make monthly payments and a 60-day notice of lease termination for those who make payments longer than a month. Commissioners also added wording to make sure there weren’t any loopholes with other costs like pet fees or parking.

"When the tenant is notified that OK their rent is going up, it would also be good if they were notified of any other of these fee increases as well," Commissioner Mariella Smith said.

Advocates say it’s a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t solve the bigger problem.

"Every little bit helps," Robin Lockett with Florida Rising said. "So it'll help, it'll help, but there's no availability of housing. That's the biggest thing."

Like many rapidly growing areas, Hillsborough County has become a target for corporate investors.

“More than 10,000 properties, as I understand it, have now been bought by these commercial entities,” Commissioner Pat Kemp said.

RELATED: Pinellas County passes Tenants Bill of Rights

As more corporations buy, more families are being priced out of their homes.

"We have allowed all these corporations to come to Florida and the Tampa Bay area," Coney said. "They have bought up the housing stock, they raised the rent. Where do people go that live here?"

The county hopes the new ordinance will take some of the pressure off of renters who are facing high costs and even higher stakes.

“We've got to be brave. We're going to have to make changes because we're in desperate need right now," Coney said. "So it's going to take everything, everything and everybody to work to solve this problem.”

When it comes to renting, Tampa is considered one of the most competitive markets in the country, according to RentCafe, which found that 96 percent of apartments are occupied. 

On average, renters in south Florida are paying $2,843 a month. In the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro, renters are similarly paying north of $2,000 a month, on average. That’s more than a 22 percent increase over this time last year.

RELATED: Nine ways to recession-proof your life as prices soar

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