Orlando tenants feel pinch of rent spikes

Metro Orlando rents spiked by as much as 15 percent during a year-long period when rents nationally declined, making Central Florida less affordable than some California markets, including Sacramento, a new report shows.

The biggest jump in rental rates hit smaller units. An influx of new complexes filled with one-bedroom units pushed up the average rental on those apartments by 15 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from a month earlier, reaching an average $1,170, according to research released Tuesday by the analytics firm Zumper. Household income in Metro rose 1.2 percent during that period, the federal government reported.

Rosalinda Hernandez, 60, works as a bill collector and lives with her mother in the east Orlando area. She said she keeps a close watch on the apartment market and finds no property managers offering discounts.

“If you don’t have someone to live with, you can’t make it,” she said.

For landlords, the region has been identified as a standout for its rising rents.

Brian Alford, market economist for the CoStar Group, said Orlando’s annual rent growth is one of the best in the nation. The four-county area had fourth highest year-over-year rent gains among the nation’s top 54 metro areas, he said.

“Orlando has seen rent growth across both luxury and workforce housing, which is not the norm,” he said.

The boost in prices repositions the Metro Orlando area from a region considered affordable to one where renters have to search harder to find deals. Apartments with two bedrooms rose at about half the rate of one-bedroom rentals and averaged $1,290 in October.Universal Orlando announces two new hotels

While rents in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties rose by double-digit amounts from a year earlier, rents nationally declined by about 1 percent.

The Orlando area’s rent hikes come even as thousands of new units are rolling onto the market with 4,500 new apartments added in October, according to ALN Apartment Data.

Within the region, Clermont appeared to have one of the lower occupancy rates with less than 90 percent of units filled while the Eustis/Leesburg and DeLand areas appeared to have a shortage of rentals with virtually no units available in September, ALN reported. In the University of Central Florida area, east Orlando and Oviedo had an occupancy rate of 94 percent.

Tenants renting houses in the Orlando region did not escape the spike with those rents rising more than 4 percent in September, which was higher than the increases of 3.5 percent nationally, according to Morningstar. Higher rents don’t seem to be scaring away tenants with vacancy rates of 4.8 percent in September, which was down slightly from a year earlier. Nationally, vacancy rates for rental houses were 5.9 percent.

Looking ahead, conditions are unlikely to improve for renters with an influx of prospective renters following hurricanes, said Ryan Coon, an author who writes on landlord issues..

“We’re continuing the see rents climb in Orlando, especially as the housing market remains tight post-Irma,” Coon said. “This trend bodes well for landlords looking to invest in the area.”