On Your Side: Sun Valley couple hit with $1,000 rent hike

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Caroleena Popham gave us a tour of her Sun Valley home. It's a three bedroom double wide mobile home she and her husband Mike have been renting for the past eight years.

The home has its issues. Among them: A leaking swamp cooler, electrical breakers that shut down repeatedly and windows so drafty the Pophams have put up blankets to help insulate the house.

"Because a lot of air comes in through the window," Caroleena told us. "It's like a freezer in here."

Even with all those problems Caroleena and her husband would like to stay where they are. They like the space it offers. But they now face a huge rent hike.

How much? $1,000 a month. From the $775 per month they pay now to a whopping $1,775 a month.

"I don't know what to do except reach out to you," she told us.

We decided to call the Popham's landlord in Illinois to try to get an explanation for that one thousand dollar rent hike. We called four times but we have yet to get a call back.

Unfortuanately for the Pophams there's not a lot they can do. Without rent control landlords are free to charge whatever they want. And with a vacancy rate of just under two percent in the Reno-Sparks area rental rates continue to climb.

The Pophams say they can't afford to move. And now, they can't afford to stay. They're not sure where they'll end up.

"I've been on the streets before, years ago, and it wasn't a fun place to be," Mike told us. He says he does not want to go back.

Mike and Caroleena wonder what it will take to reign in the rising prices many renters are faced with.

Because as seniors on a fixed income they simply can't keep up.

Caroleena says someone needs to look out for them.

"I want to put this out to the Mayor and council," she said.

"Look, this has got to stop."

A spokesman for the city of Reno told us there are some resources for low income residents faced with large rent hikes. One of them is through Washoe Affordable Housing. Their website is WAHC.info. Other than that there is not much the city can do in situations like this, or rising rents in general.

Now after all of our phone calls last week in researching this story we did eventually get a call back from the landlord in Illinois. He says he is only planning to raise the Popham's rent a couple of hundred dollars.

So there's a big discrepancy between what the Pophams say they were told and what the landlord is telling us now. We'll follow up when there is a lease agreement in writing. So far the Pophams have not been given one.

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