Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

Albuquerque’s overheated rental market has already begun to force out longtime residents. The Paper. spoke to 80-year-old Marti Wolf, whose rent has recently increased by nearly 40 percent in an apartment where she has lived in the NE Heights for over 10 years. Wolf, who relies on a fixed income, won’t be able to afford her new rent and has been forced to accept a month-by-month lease for $100 more while she searches for another apartment.

“My Christmas present from the complex was a letter informing me that my $770 monthly rent was going to $1050,” Marti said. Los Altos Towers apartments, where she lives, has also planned renovations in the next few months, even with increased rent.

Marti expected a rent increase, but an increase of nearly 40 percent was too much for her. “I expected a raise. I was not going to contest a raise. This is just outlandish,” she said.

Even with the increase in rent forcing her out of her apartment, Wolf also realizes that there are residents and even families who may not be in a position to adapt to rising rents in the city. “There are people who are on the edge already. There are families. They don’t have a lot of assets. They don’t have a lot of education. They don’t have the ability to get out there and find a place to live. We’re going to have homeless on the streets, people who never ever dream of being homeless. Families on the street,” she said.

“If other landlords are doing this, raising their rents 20, 30, 40 percent, I think there will be a real serious problem with families trying to find a place,” Marti added.

Los Altos Towers is also not the only apartment complex to raise its rents. The price for rental apartments around the city has steadily risen and has defied seasonal trends. Jonas Bordo, Founder and CEO of Dwellsy an online rental listing service, rent in Albuquerque is one of the fastest rising in the country. “Rent is up well ahead of normal this year around the country, but much more for Albuquerque. Rent nationwide is up 8 percent YTD; in Albuquerque, it’s 26 percent for the year. Rent is up 4.7 percent from just November to October, which is both a huge increase for a single month and counter-cyclical. Rent should be going down this time of year, but it’s not in Albuquerque and it’s not nationwide (up 2 percent),” Bordo said in an interview.

A key feature of Albuquerque has been its relatively affordable housing and rental market compared to other regional cities. But with Albuquerque ranking in the top markets for housing and rental increases, we may lose our status as an affordable alternative to other cities. According to Bordo the housing market is projected to defy seasonal trends, and prices will most likely continue to rise. “Unfortunately, I don’t think so. We typically see the rent market cooling this time of year, but this year that just hasn’t happened yet. The coming year is likely to see continued rent increases,” Bordo said.

That’s bad news for Marti Wolf and other local renters. “I know it’s legal. There’s legal, and then there’s right. This is legal, but it’s not right. I expected a raise, but I didn’t expect anything like that,” Marti said.

Wolf hopes to find an apartment owned by someone local to avoid future astronomical jumps in rent. But with many other residents in her same situation, she has found waiting lists to be long for locally-owned apartments. “I know that there will be a lot more big complexes that will be raising rent because they can. Because the people who make those decisions will never see any of us or know any of us, or frankly will never be at the facility.”