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Soaring rent prices pushing Knoxville renters out of their homes

Rent prices have soared around 20 - 30% in the last year across Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Area Association of Realtors reported rent prices spiked around 20 to 30% in the last year across Tennessee. The spike in rent is leaving many families in a bind, as they are priced out of their homes.

According to experts, the rise in rent prices shows no sign of dropping anytime soon. A new study shows apartment prices across America have risen around 12% in just one year. The average price of a one-bedroom apartment is around $1,300.

Renters in Knoxville are trying to explore their options in the face of rising rental costs. However, many said they are at a loss of where to live as they struggle to make ends meet.

"I have no idea how to fix it they just want to get more and more money, prices are going up and up but wages are just staying the same,” said Jimmy Holt, a renter in the area. "I'm a 50-year-old man with a roommate now because I can't find anything I can afford on my own."

"I am out here working," said Jessica McCroskey, a renter in Knoxville. "Like, I am working every day and if my rent goes up anymore I don't know what I'll do."

People have struggled for years to find affordable places to live in Knoxville, and recent changes in the real estate market have caused the price of homes to soar. For many, affording a home is far outside of their reach, partly due to the fierce competition to find one.

"Now it's like it's cheaper to buy a house, but I can't find anything anymore so that's the conundrum," Holt said.

He lived in Knoxville for more than 20 years. He sold his home and switched to renting as a way to downsize and save money, but it didn't turn out the way he planned. He said his rent has been raised twice during the pandemic and he's had to move twice because of that.  

"We're going to raise your rent another $200 a month and it was $950 at the time and I was like well, I can't afford this anymore," he said. 

He's not alone. Lots of Knox County renters are struggling to hold onto their homes. Suzie Trotta, owner of Trotta-Montgomery real-estate said the supply and demand chain is another contributing factor.  

"A lot of landlords, when the eviction moratorium was over people who were holding onto a lot of properties divested and sold," she said. "Pushing more people into apartments as well and they're just able to raise the prices so they are. That's unfortunate but that's how the free market works."

With new landlords she said, can come new price hikes. Other than the profit motive though, no other reason was given for people being priced out of their homes.

On Monday, there were 274 active listings for homes in Knox County, she said. The next day there were 264.

"So we're ten fewer and that's huge," she said. "You know, Knoxville just seems to be growing and growing and more people moving here."

If you are worried about your rent going up, experts say one option is to talk to a landlord about a longer lease agreement. Some may cut a long-term deal with people who pay on time.

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