BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – As soaring rent prices continue, leaving Cocoa residents with sticker shock, sometimes with little notice, city officials are now considering a proposal to give tenants more notice of a looming price hike.
The agenda item up for discussion Tuesday night would regulate the amount of time that a landlord can give to a tenant before increasing their rent. The proposal, introduced by Deputy Mayor LaVander Hearn, would require a landlord to give at least 60 days notice for an increase above 5% on a regular lease. It would require at least 30 days notice for month-to-month leases.
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The proposal is based on a similar ordinance that was passed recently in the city of Tampa. There is also similar legislation in Miami. A spokesperson for the city of Cocoa says the proposal in Brevard County is preliminary and is designed to address part of the housing crisis.
“We’re still doing a lot of research on the topic,” said Samantha Senger, a public information officer for the city of Cocoa. “We need to gather kind of locally what type of housing crisis we’re facing here, what type of increase we’ve seen over the last year as far as rentals go. So there’s a lot of information that still needs to be gathered before council can make an informed decision.”
Data from RentHub shows the median rent price in Cocoa is up 85% from April 2021 to April 2022. Many families struggle to afford a place to live among their other costs.
“Today at lunch, I received a call from a Brevard County Sheriff’s deputy who was out with a mom and dad and six kids who had recently lost housing and had no place to go,” said Tara Pagliarini, executive director of Family Promise of Brevard.
Family Promise of Brevard is a non-profit organization that works to provide safe affordable housing and the resources to achieve self-sufficiency and lasting independence for families.
“Families are just really struggling to make ends meet, and so they’re finding themselves in a situation that they’ve just never been in before,” Pagliarini said. “As soon as the pandemic hit, I know our services increased 450% overnight just from front-line low wage earners losing their income immediately.”
Pagliarini said some families in Cocoa are spending up to 80% of their income on housing costs.
To help struggling residents, Family Promise of Brevard is repurposing an old firehouse in the city into what they call a one-stop shop of opportunity.
“We’re really creating a pipeline here in ZIP code 32922 from residence, to training, and employment that will help the residents earn a living wage,” Pagliarini said.
Pagliarini sees the proposal the city council is now discussing as a proactive step that will give families more time to prepare.
The city council will not take any official action during Tuesday’s meeting. A spokesperson for the city said the proposal will need to be reviewed if it is something the council likes. It will most likely be modified before anything official happens.
“There (are) a lot more steps that need to take place before we get to that point,” Senger said.