Renter Faces Sticker Shock: $750 Rent Increase

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It’s another sign of the red-hot housing market in North Texas.

Renters across our area are reporting major ‘sticker shock’ when it comes to rent increases.

In one case, by more than $700.

Courtney Humphries must quickly decide where she, her child and her dog will live in the coming months.

“I have ten days to figure it out,” she said.

Humphries has been renting a house in Plano for three years with no increases to her rent.

A good deal, she admits.

She is now renting on a month-to-month basis and just received a notice that left her speechless.

“My jaw dropped,” she said. “I was like, 'Am I reading this right?'”

She has been notified that if she would like to keep living in the house, she will have to pay an additional $750 in rent and sign a year lease or move out.

Perfectly legal and a sign of the times, according to one expert.

“Rental rates are always a derivative of what housing prices are,” said UNT adjunct professor of real estate Marc Moffitt. “All of this is a function of supply and demand and this is where the rubber meets the road.”

Moffitt says a strong national economy and an increasing number of people moving to Texas has led to an increase in demand for housing, and thus, an increase in rental prices.

“The taxes, insurance and maintenance, the cost of operating a rent house have gone up substantially,” said Moffitt.

The landlord’s spokesperson declined an on-camera interview but told NBC 5 via email:

‘The increase of landlord expenses in property taxes, insurance premiums, and maintenance,’ adding ‘the increase is based on the current market price.’

It’s not known if the landlord wants the tenant out or wants to rent or sell to someone else.

Humphries says she has been a good tenant and has paid rent on time.

“I don’t know that month to month in my situation played a big factor here,” she said. “I think my landlord, he just wants to be at market.”

She doesn’t dispute the increase would bring the house within the market value range, which Moffitt says often ends up being the deciding factor in rental prices.

An online check of the home’s property tax bill found the owner’s property taxes decreased the past two years, not increased.

NBC 5 spoke with the landlord’s spokesperson who said she would relay the question about the discrepancy to the owner.

We have not yet heard back.

“Being in a month-to-month contract right now is exceptionally risky for tenants,” warns Moffitt.

The monthly agreement provides little to no security for either party, he adds.

Finding a rental right now is also a tough task.

“I would advise trying to get as long as an initial term as you can and then also look at getting renewal options pre-defined,” he said.

Humphries says she was unable to secure a raise at work. The single mother fears others will face the same challenges.

“When you don’t have salaries increasing and you have increases like this for your shelter, it’s a big concern,” she said. “There should be some kind of regulation on it.”

A cap, she says, should be placed by the state on how much rent can increase in Texas, like California enacted.

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