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The rent is too high: Tenants concerned as Memphis area rent is rising

New data showed the Memphis area had among the highest year-to-year surge of average rental listings among all metros in the country.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Real estate experts and renters are sounding the alarm to ABC24 about a growing housing dilemma.

They're concerned about surging rental costs in the Memphis area they believe are unsustainable. 

It comes as new data showed the year-to-year average rental listing in the Memphis area increased more than in nearly all other metros in the country. The issue is especially worrisome for those already struggling to make ends meet.

"It can make you really depressed," Brooke Dean said. "You aren't able to go out and do the things you want."

Dean said her lifestyle is different these days.

In the past 18 months, she said the Southwind-area home rent for she and her fiancé went up about 20% - or $200 more - per month.

"With all of these price increases, it's hard for the people, the blue collar, to be able to afford things," Dean added.

Real estate data showed the average rent in the Memphis area skyrocketed 73% between April 2021 and last month. See the report here: https://blog.dwellsy.com/when-will-renters-get-a-break/.

"I think they are driving up the real estate prices artificially, so therefore they can drive up the rents," P.J. McGhee said.

McGhee alerted ABC24 about the issue from another angle: as a former property manager.

McGhee admitted shock when he learned a Highland Heights home he sold in 2020, which he then rented out for $750 a month, is now listed at $1100 a month. That's a 47% spike in just two years.

"It just seemed to be incredibly unfair to anybody who is trying to rent in this town for that kind of increase," McGhee added.

He's worried about a looming catastrophe if the local rent increases don't stabilize soon.

"Where are these people going to live? Are they going to have to double up family members? Are they going to have to accept more family members to live in their house?" McGhee said. "I don't know what the answers are. All I know it is does not appear to be sustainable to me."

As for Dean and her fiancé, with higher rent, they're making adjustments elsewhere to make ends meet.

"Basically we are just working to pay bills. There's no leisure time. We can't afford to pay for things we enjoy. It's all just groceries, utilities, and rent," Dean said.

A local economist told ABC24 the rent increase trends are expected to continue until there is more availability of single family homes.

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