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Approaching the end of 2021, Rebecca Brown had a tough choice to make: Either renew a lease at her Carrollton apartment complex, which wanted $346 more a month in rent, or leave the area where she’d lived for five years.
When Brown reached out to her leasing office, she was told the rent increase couldn’t be negotiated. Her two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment’s rent would jump from $1,443 to $1,789. For Brown, the new price would be a struggle to afford.
“It stressed me out immediately because, I mean, that’s a huge jump,” Brown said. “That’s [about] $400. To try to come up with an extra $400 a month, that’s not that easy to do.”
Brown, a 37-year-old tax analyst, is far from alone. Across the state and country, a combination of social, economic and political forces are driving more people to look for rental housing but limiting the construction of units. That imbalance between supply and demand pushes rents upward, putting tenants in financial binds. And in Texas — where laws favor landlords, and rent control is virtually nonexistent — tenants are left to either take on additional jobs, cut other household costs or move out of the communities they prefer.
“I could have afforded the increase, but it just would’ve made the budget tighter,” Brown said. “So I was like, I have to start thinking about what my options are here.”
From March 2020 to last month, the estimated median rent of new leases has increased by double digits in several Texas cities, according to Apartment List. And it’s not just the big cities. Waco and Temple saw increases of more than 30% in that time frame.
In cities like New York and Los Angeles, rent control limits how much housing costs can increase on some units. And while such policies protect some tenants there, overall rental prices can still jump.
Texas allows rent control only if a city’s governing body determines there’s a housing emergency caused by a disaster. Even then, the decision to enact such a policy must be approved by the governor. The state’s government code lists many things that can be determined as a disaster, such as a flood, hurricane, drought and an epidemic. Texas’ landlord-friendly regulations — and lack of broader rent control — is increasingly making the state unaffordable for tenants, said Sandy Rollins, executive director of the Texas …….