The housing crisis in the United States has reached new levels of absurdity as it was more affordable to purchase a home during the Great Depression than it is today. The COVID-19 pandemic saw a striking surge in property values all across the country, which, combined with supply chain issues made building, renovating, and moving into new homes prohibitively expensive.
These price hikes were also reflected in rents/leases across the country as well, which has always been on an upward trend: between 1985 and 2020, the average cost of rent ballooned 149%, around 4 times the rate of income growth in that time period (35%).
Just between 2021 and 2022 rent saw a massive 11.3% average price increase, forcing a lot of Americans out of their long-term homes and into areas further away from their jobs and preferred school systems for their children.
These statistics back up the tons of anecdotal social media posts, from folks who are expressing their frustration and hopelessness over not being able to afford a place to live of their own, to people who are just shocked at how much their neighbors are being charged to live in units that are identical to theirs.
Like Callie, a TikToker who posts under the handle @cal_cifer_2.0 on the popular social media platform.
In a now-viral clip, Callie says that her neighbor asked her how much she was paying monthly for her apartment, and the TikToker told her. Her neighbor was stunned as she learned that Callie was paying $600 less a month than she was for a place with the same floor plan.
Callie writes in a caption for the video: "Can they do that?" and says in the clip that her monthly rent was jacked up from $1,000 a month to around $1,300 while her neighbor pays $1,900.
She questioned the legality of the rent hike and unfortunately depending on which state or county she lives in, landlords are able to price the costs of their units pretty much whatever they like.
Only five states have rent control laws: Maryland, New Jersey, New York, California, Oregon, and Washington D.C. However, these are often county-by-county or by specific towns and counties. There are some politicians in major cities, however, who are looking to implement rent control laws.
Michelle Wu of Boston, Mass. has gone on record saying that she would like to re-introduce rent control to the city and tons of residents have looked upon the initiative favorably. Andrew Boesenecker of Colorado also introduced a bill that reduced the cost in which mobile-home lot owners can charge rent by a maximum of 3% or the rate of inflation: whichever one is higher.
Then you've got policy makers in Miami and Tampa who want to declare the housing crisis a state of emergency to lock rental rates in as they continue to skyrocket as a means of addressing the housing crisis for residents who are being priced out of their homes. Areas in Minnesota are also looking to implement rental increase restrictions as well.
TikTokers while sympathizing with Callie's neighbor unfortunately weren't surprised by the increases and even shared stories of their own hardships in dealing with "rent gouging."
"Pretty sure it’s legal, yeah. Renting is a scam and unfortunately, most of us don’t get a choice."
"it's probably legal, but it's super shady"
"I’m guessing because she’s a new tenant they are charging her “market value” and increasing yours the max % per year until they get there."
"Legal? Yes. Moral? No. It's why they try to push long term tenant out when there's a huge spike in rent, because they can get more money from everyone"
"My rent is half of my neighbors because I’ve been there for 8 years. Every new tenant gets a higher rent."
"when it comes to landlords there's lots of stuff that really SHOULD be illegal but technically isn't"
"They can charge as much as the tenant is willing to pay. They can only raise your rent so much each lease. It sucks but is legal."
Others cautioned against Callie telling her neighbors how much she pays in rent as she may have her own monthly payment increased as a consequence of doing so.
What do you think? Should there be more widespread rent control laws implemented in the United States? Or perhaps a Federal Law that makes anyone who pays rent as a private citizen put equity into a building, with only a percentage being taken out for property taxes and maintenance fees?