Half of renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent

October 3, 2018 - 2 min read

America’s cost-burdened renters

Though the recent 0.1 percent dip in national rents may seem like a reason for optimism, it turns out things are pretty bad for today’s renters. In fact, according to new data, nearly half of all U.S. renters are cost-burdened, spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent.

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Bogged down by housing costs

According to data from Apartment List, 49.5 percent of all American renters are burdened by their housing costs. That’s down slightly from last year when 49.7 percent of renters were cost-burdened.

But the small decrease isn’t a silver lining. According to Chris Salvati, Apartment List’s housing economist, the change is simply a result of who’s renting, not what renting costs.

“Much of this decrease in the cost burden rate is attributable to an influx of high-income households to the rental market,” Salvati said.

In fact, the number of actual cost-burdened households is up significantly. A whopping 3.1 million more renters are burdened than in 2007, and one in four spends at least half their household income on rent.

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Where renters suffer most

Renters in Miami have it worst, according to Apartment List’s data. The city has the highest cost burden rate in the country, with 62.7 percent of renter households burdened by housing costs.

Other cities with high shares of cost-burdened renters include Riverside, California; Philadelphia; San Diego; Los Angeles; Boston; Orlando; New York; and Baltimore.

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The median renter in 20 out of the nation’s 25 largest metros is cost-burdened.

“There are only five metros — Dallas, Minneapolis, Charlotte, St. Louis and Houston — where the median renter can comfortably afford the median rent,” Salvati said. “Framing the problem in this way highlights the fact that rental housing affordability affects not just low-income households, but also millions in the middle-class.”

Where rent prices have jumped the most

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Aly J. Yale
Authored By: Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Aly J. Yale is a mortgage and real estate writer based in Houston who has contributed to Forbes and worked for organizations such as The Dallas Morning News, PBS, NBC, and Radio Disney.