Rentals all over the country are increasing in price, mostly due to fallout from the housing collapse:
-during the boom, since just about anyone could get a mortgage and buy a single-family home, multifamily construction was significantly less than population growth and historical trend
-after the collapse, many people lost their homes due to job loss, foreclosure, ARM adjustment, etc.
-after the collapse, commercial loans were hard to get due to uncertainty of returns, and mulitfamily construction is just now starting in many markets
-it's hard to manage a widespread rental portfolio of single-family homes, so it's not easy to convert housing units between rental and owned
Additionally, desirable and undesirable neighborhoods are switching places (inner city to exurb) in many markets due to generational changes in taste, decreased crime nationwide, increased gasoline costs, and so on, so centrally-located neighborhoods with good mass transit are becoming a lot more expensive in many cities, especially those with strong job markets (like NYC).
The "goofy stuff" is usually just an attempt by landlords to ride the upward wave in rental rates even higher.