Why is rent so high across the Bay Area?

Rent increases have become more common and bigger recently leaving many asking what's behind the skyrocketing prices.

New research conducted by a Florida International University economist says the cost of rent in the Bay Area has gone up about 17 percent in the last year.

"I can understand $50, but $200 or more," said Lakeland resident Nancy Carriere. "That’s crazy!"

FIU Professor Ken Johnson surveyed more than 100 areas across the United States. He concluded that the rental market in Florida is one of the most overpriced in the entire country.

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The average rent in Tampa is now up to $2,055 a month. In Lakeland, it’s $1,808.

For rent sign

Johnson says the driving force is supply and demand. The population in the Bay Area is exploding, especially in Polk County, which is one of the fastest-growing places in the country. That means that competition for housing, which has always been stiff, is even more intense now.

"Population spikes always create short-term real estate problems," Johnson told FOX 13.

Another problem is that supply is not keeping up with population growth.

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Johnson says the pandemic didn’t help and made the situation worse.

House under construction

"A lot of developers got out of the business, not only building homes, but building multifamily units, so we have this huge inventory shortage," he said.

He says the overinflated prices won’t last forever.

"This will pass," said Johnson. "Housing prices and rents are cyclical."

Johnson says rent prices are expected to come down, but how quickly and when is not clear.