KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you are renting an apartment and your lease is up soon, you may expect to see a big increase in your rent.

A west Knox County man’s rent will skyrocket by $300 a month in the coming year. Tom Buckner told us he thought his monthly rent might up by $30 or $40. It turns out the complex where he lives is increasing its rent on par with most others in the Knoxville area as having to pay $1600 to $1900 a month for an average rental unit is not unusual in the area.

At 67, Buckner is semi-retired, but he’s busy with his own online eBay store and he works part-time for the postal service. Since 2016, he’s lived at Forest Ridge Apartments in West Knoxville. His rent is $1200 a month.

“One of the things I really like about it, it is one of the rare facilities that has a racket ball or handball courts. You just don’t find that anymore,” said Buckner. “Every year our rent has gone up by about $30. That’s the way it’s been for almost 6 years. Suddenly, I get this and the rent is going up almost $300.”

Seeking an explanation for the rent spike, he went to the management office.

“I was nice and everything. I was like, is there a mistake here? Please tell me there is. She was like, no, I’m sorry there is no mistake. We are all seeing an increase in the cost of everything. I was like almost 300 dollars in one year. I don’t buy that,” said Buckner.

A letter from Forest Ridge says the lease on his townhouse is expiring in two months and offers him the choice to either make up his mind in 60 days, by May 4 – or pay month-to-month at an even higher rate.

“Well, they even spell it out here. If I don’t renew my lease, then if they let me stay, my month-to-month rate is going to go up to $1861. And right now if I renew it is $1489. So, it is going to be another 300 and something dollars. I was like good God, are you kidding me,” said Buckner.

According to Apartment List, a national online marketplace for apartment listing, the rent hike at Forest Ridge is similar to other complexes. Knoxville’s year-over-year rent growth stands at 28.1%, compared to 6.4% at this time last year. Rents in Knoxville are up by 36.3% since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Median rents in Knoxville currently stand at $1084 for a 1-bedroom apartment and $1,353 for a two-bedroom.

“I’m working two jobs, basically, and I can work more hours, so long as my health holds. I’m not a youngster,” said Buckner. “Ah, I’m afraid that I’m stuck. I don’t want to take the chance of not having a place to live.”

With the exception of the last December, rents continued to trend upward through the winter slow season this year, and growth is now accelerating as we enter the spring and summer months, when rental activity is normally at its peak. Even if prices don’t rise as rapidly as they did in 2021, it’s likely that this year will continue to bring rent growth in excess of the pre-pandemic trend. By the way, rents are up month-over-month in 93 of the country’s 100 largest cities.

The prediction by Apartment List, many renters are likely to remain burdened throughout 2022 by historically high housing costs.