MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In Memphis and across the nation, call it a sign of the time for tenants as rent increases and soars through the roof.

Carter Group Realtors manages about 50 apartment units. Owner Steven R. Ford said he knows many Memphians are struggling and they have avoided passing on excessive rent hikes.

“When you raise rent ostensibly and some of these rents are going up 200 and 300 dollars a month, it changes the way people live their lives.” Ford said.

A 24/7 Wall Street report stated that Memphis ranks 12th on the list of cities with skyrocketing rents. This is a 22% increase over last year with the average rent now standing at $1,400.

“If $300 comes out of somebody’s budget and comes out of their food budget and now, they have to use it for housing,” Ford said. “It’s a detrimental effect.”

Ford says some of the blame can be attributed to real estate investment companies and hedge funds.

“Those corporations or just business in general is going to be to accelerate that to a market rate so that they’re maximizing their investment,” he said. ‘The other option is for the tenant to absorb that or to leave.”

Some state lawmakers call this a housing crisis. Representative G.A. Hardaway told WREG that the problem will only get worse.

“If we don’t start planning and strategizing now, it’s going to get exponentially worse,” he said. “We’ll start seeing homeless folks that we never would have thought would be sleeping in cars or on big momma’s sofa. We need to put some capital up for affordable housing that influx of funding would help to offset the rising cost of rent.”

The rising cost of rent seems here to stay as tenants search for solutions.

“That’s something a tenant can do is negotiate less money for a longer lease, a landlord may not be interested in that, but it never hurts to ask,” Ford said.

Ford also recommends renters become familiar with what’s called the ‘landlord-tenant’ act in the state of Tennessee to look for possible legal protection.