Rents Up For Short Supply Of Houses And Apartments

When Katrina washed away hundreds of apartments, rents shot up 20 to 30 percent on those that weren't damaged.

"It's tight, it's real tight. We have everything that we have available rented," says Franklin Kyle, owner of SunStates Management of Biloxi.

He says the rents run from $650 for a one bedroom apartment, up to $950 for three bedrooms. That may sound unaffordable to some, but Kyle says they fill up as fast as they open. With increasing construction costs, he says the days of $500 a month rent are gone.

"Building costs what they are today and land prices what they are today, cause both of them enter in. You're not going to build and rent apartments for $500-$550 a month. That's just not, I don't think it's going to happen."

Realtor Jay Schroeder agrees. He says rental houses are as scarce as apartments.

"This is the only house we have available right now. Beautiful home, but all we have."

The house on Firetower Road is 1,700 square feet, three bedrooms, on two acres. It rents for $1,800 a month. That's as much as some house notes. Schroeder says that's not unusual and landlords are getting what they ask.

"Within reason. That 20 to 30 percent, no problem. If they start asking a gross amount for it, they're just not going to get it."

Still, Schroeder says houses and apartments don't sit empty long.

"We probably get 15 to 30 calls a day with no advertising, just calling on rental properties. If we put an ad in the paper, you know, at least 50 calls a day on that unit."

Schroeder and Franklin say as long as the rental market keeps growing, they expect prices to go up too.

In Jackson and Hancock Counties, it's the same story. Realtors tell us there are no apartments and the houses that are available rent for $850 to $2,300 a month.