As Relief Programs Expire, Rent Is Rising Sharply Across the US

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Renters in the United States are getting a double dose of bah and humbug as the holidays approach: a sharp rise in rental rates across the country just as many rental relief programs have expired.

See: Renters Are Being Evicted Waiting For Federal Rental Assistance
Find: Home Prices Surged Again in July, Bringing 19.7% Increases For The Year

Rents are up nearly 20% compared to last year, according to the latest rent report from Apartment Guide, and continue to push higher each month. The report, released on Oct. 29, compared rental price data from Apartment Guide and between September 2020 and September 2021. Here’s how rent prices have changed for states that don’t have a low inventory of available rental units:

  • 1 bedroom: $1,660 average rent, up 19.8% from the previous year and 7.7% from the previous month
  • 2 bedroom: $1,964 average rent, up 18.9% from the previous year and 7.1% from the previous month

Among U.S. cities, Gilbert, Arizona had the biggest year-over-year increase in one-bedroom rent prices at 116.5%. Rounding out the top five were Spokane, Washington (69.3%); Long Beach, California (66.3%); New York, New York (58.2%); and St. Petersburg, Florida (56.7%).

Cities with the biggest year-over-year increases in two-bedroom rent prices were Santa Ana, California, at 60.2%; Huntington Beach, California (58.5%); Reno, Nevada (57.9%); Hialeah, Florida (49.2%); and Fresno, California (46.5%).

The rising prices come just as most renters are no longer protected by the federal eviction moratorium put in place in September 2020 to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and provide relief to struggling tenants. As GOBankingRates previously reported, efforts to extend the moratorium were blocked by the Supreme Court in August.

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States that implemented their own moratoriums have also seen them expire. That’s the case in Washington, where Gov. Jay Inslee last week announced that his state’s eviction moratorium would expire on Sunday, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, renters seeking relief through other means, such as emergency rental assistance, have run into problems getting their money. A pair of federal relief bills allocated $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance, but those funds have been slow making it to states and cities, CNBC reported. At the end of July, only $5.1 billion had been distributed by state and local governments, though the pace did pick up the next couple of months.

Tenants who have a hard time paying higher rents do have options beyond rental assistance. Here are a few of them, as recently cited by CNBC:

  • Research tenant rights where you live. Some states and cities have caps that limit how much rates can be raised.
  • Negotiate with your landlord or rental company — especially smaller landlords in properties that already have vacancies. Most landlords would rather keep a reliable tenant at a lower price increase than get stuck with another vacancy and go through the process of finding and fielding new tenants.
  • Seek other financial concessions, such as having your utility bill included in your rent.
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Finally, if you have the ability to move elsewhere — maybe because you work from home and are not restricted by location — think about finding a cheaper place to live. While most rents in the U.S. are rising, in some areas they have fallen over the last year.

See: People in These States Are Having the Hardest Time Paying Rent
Find:15 Best Money Habits To Have When Renting an Apartment

According to the Apartment Guide report, these cities had the biggest year-over-year declines in one-bedroom rents: Huntsville, Alabama; Greensboro, North Carolina; Philadelphia; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Memphis, Tennessee.

These cities had the biggest decreases in two-bedroom rent prices year-over-year: Philadelphia;  Plano, Texas; Rochester, New York; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Baltimore.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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