Rent skyrockets 62% at local apartment complex

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After Hurricane Michael, housing became scarce, and rental prices skyrocketed.

Families are still having a tough time trying to find a place to live, much less one they can afford.

79 West apartments in Panama City Beach has several residents who are so upset with rent increases, that they formed a tenant association, so far with 100 members.

According to residents, the average one-bedroom is between $850 to $950 per month at 79 West. Residents were told their rent for these same apartments they are currently In, will increase to $1,525 after this years’ lease is up.

Resident Rita Brookins said they have yet to receive keys to use any of the amenities.

“In terms of the rent, we have been notified in writing, that some people’s rent will be increased up to 62%, and in the past, these same tenant increases were 9% per year, and now it’s going to be raised 62%,” said Brookins. 

Residents said their apartment complex does price-fixing instead of going by market average to set their rent numbers.

“Other places set their rent based on the fair market rent set information provided by Hud user. This place doest use Hud user, this apartment complex calls around to other apartments and sees what they’re charging and that’s how they set their rent,” said Brookins.

Representatives from the apartment complex said they have put more than $2 million dollars into renovations in this last year alone and that the increasing rates are reflective of their investment.

Resident Deb Taylor said no upgrades have been made to any apartments.

“If we can’t do something about it I think it’s going to be traumatic, I think a lot of people are just going to say they’re leaving,” said Taylor.

Residents say they have exhausted all efforts at the state level and will just wait and see what happens next.

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