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City of Tampa studies rent in other Florida cities amid housing crisis

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Skyrocketing rents in Tampa are causing outrage among residents.

A local housing advocate said it is leading a movement urging city council to declare a state of emergency.

It comes one week after the council passed an ordinance requiring renters to give tenants a 60-day notice if their rent goes up. Renters feel while that helps, they need relief now.

During a workshop on Thursday morning, city council asked attorneys to look at how Miami and Gainesville have addressed their housing crises and if it’ll work in Tampa.

Rent in Tampa Bay is one of the most expensive in the country. It’s up more than 33 percent from last year, according to the rent blog, Zumper.

“What do we do?” asked one Tampa resident. “We ask for assistance, and we can’t get assistance.”

This has forced some residents into evictions and homelessness.

“How can we come to a solution to build this gap between everyone?” said a member with Florida Rising. “How can we find the funding?”

 Dozens of residents stood before council asking city leaders to cap rent and declare a housing emergency.

“People’s rents are going up 30, 40, 50 percent  in housing that is not even meeting their needs and they have no way to advocate for that, nowhere to go anywhere else,” said another resident. “The tenant advocate office passed in Miami — you have a template.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said it provides legal protection for renters when he signed the “Tenant’s Bill of Rights” last week.

“If you are living in a substandard unit, if you need to make necessary repairs, this will guarantee that you have the ability to make those repairs, document them and reduce your rent accordingly,” Levine Cava said.

A motion was passed by council for the city to study if a similar Office of Housing advocacy would work in Tampa.

“This would offer tenant support, representation… in regard to any issues with landlord’s evictions and raising the rents,” said councilmember Guido Maniscalco. “It’s an extra safeguard to protect people.”
The City Attorney’s Office will also look into Gainesville’s landlord complaint registry.

“I’m hoping we can either take the whole thing or modify for Tampa to make sure landlords are doing what they should be doing,” said councilmember Lynn Hurtak. “If you’re a landlord doing what you’re supposed to be doing, there’s no problem.”

Hurtak said she knows this has been successful because she herself was a landlord in Gainesville.

Florida Rising said the Tenant Advocacy Office is just one piece of the puzzle..

“There will have to be a cap on rent because you have greedy landlords. That’s why we’re in this mess,” said Robin Lockett with Florida Rising.

City Attorney’s Office will report back to council on June 16th with their findings.

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