UF researchers examine cooling rental market

Facade of a modern apartment building

National reports indicate that rent growth is declining and the market is shifting in tenants’ favor. But in Florida, it may still be some time before prices level off or decrease.

With continuing population growth, Florida is an extreme version of what is happening in several strong rental markets in the country, said Anne Ray, manager of the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse at UF’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies. 

“A slight cooldown would stop things from getting worse for renters looking for an affordable unit in Florida, but it can’t make up for double digit percentage rent increases that already took place the last couple years,” Ray said. “This means the rental market is stabilizing at a really high rate.”

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Experts with UF’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies recently collected data on Florida’s affordable rental housing needs and discovered a number of key findings:

Anne Ray
Courtesy of UF Anne Ray
  • 825,990 low-income households in Florida pay more than 40% of income for rent. 
  • Florida added hundreds of thousands of rental units between 2012 and 2021 but lost units renting for $1,000 or less. 
  • Florida added nearly 600,000 units with rents above $1,000 from 2012 to 2021.
  • More than one-third of low-income, cost-burdened renter households are headed by someone age 55 or older.
  • Renters at all income levels participate in the workforce. Most non-working renter households are made up of older adults or persons with disabilities.
  • The county with the largest number of low-income, cost-burdened renters in 2021 was Miami-Dade, followed by Broward County. 

The data, collected for the period between 2012 and 2021, found large increases in rent and households paying more than they could afford, Ray said.

The state of Florida’s households of all types increased by 309,594 between 2020 and 2022, according to UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR). All 67 Florida counties were estimated to have gained households between 2020 and 2022. Miami-Dade County had the largest increase in households between 2020 and 2022, growing by 24,040.

“We saw population growth of about 1,000 individuals moving to the state of Florida per day during the pandemic between 2020-2022,” said Richard Doty, GIS coordinator and research demographer at the Bureau. “Robust growth is still occurring within our state. While not at the same rates as during the pandemic, we’re still seeing notable increases.”

Led by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, the Florida Legislature also took action during the 2023 legislative session to boost the state’s rental housing supply and drive down prices. The Live Local Act, which took effect July 1, includes tax breaks, incentives for development and a record $811 million in funding to help address the shortage.

“Tenants have a lot of ground to make up after years of hot rental markets in Florida,” Ray said. “Affordable housing will continue to be a challenge for quite a while.”

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