Florida disabled veteran faces homelessness after rent increases from $2,100 to $3,200, landlord refuses to negotiate

Kristen Walters

This is the situation many middle-class renters are currently facing in Florida as landlords routinely increase rents by $1,000 or more per month. There is virtually no recourse if the renter can't pay because "someone else is willing" to pay the higher rate.

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Laura Guilmain is the latest tenant to share her story about how the Florida housing crisis is affecting middle-class renters. Guilmain is a disabled veteran who has undergone three brain surgeries. She has lived with her teen daughter in a Palm Beach apartment for the last three years.

Guilmain told local reporters that she was shocked when she received a letter from her landlord stating that her rent would be going up from $2,100 to $3,200 a month -- an increase of more than $1,100 and one that most people would not be able to afford.

Since the Veterans Affairs Hospital that she routinely visits is just down the road from her apartment, Guilmain tried to negotiate with the landlord. She offered to pay $400 more a month, but the landlord refused.

Guilmain fears that she will be out on the street once her lease is up because there are no affordable units in her area.

Guilmain is not the only one facing homelessness due to massive rental increases this year.

We recently reported on the story of Sara Espinoza, a Florida woman who is being forced to leave the apartment she has rented for over 22 years because her rent is going up from $1,700 to $3,500 a month.

We also covered the story of a Sarasota couple who had their rent go up by $795. Unfortunately, these stories aren't the exception; they are becoming the norm.

Currently, Florida does not have any statewide rent control laws.

State law prohibits counties from enacting any rent control measures unless it is "necessary to eliminate an existing housing emergency which is so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public."

While many opponents of rent control provisions argue that capping the amount a landlord can charge discourages housing development and hurts property owners financially, many middle-class renters are facing a legitimate housing crisis across the state.

Even though the state of Florida has a rental assistance program, many tenants have reported that they were evicted anyway, even after being approved for rental assistance funds.

What do you think should be done to help Florida's middle-class renters?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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