Rents climbed after vaccine rollouts drove Americans’ return to cities, and now the average tenant is on the brink of being rent-burdened.
A report by Realtor.com revealed that last month, tenants earning the median income in their metro areas were spending nearly 30 percent of their earnings on rent, up from 25 percent a year earlier.
The federal government considers any tenant devoting more than 30 percent of income to housing rent-burdened. The average tenant in the 50 largest U.S. cities is now at that threshold.
In 14 of those metro areas, tenants’ monthly rental expenditure has surpassed the 30 percent mark.
Renters were hit hardest in the Miami metro area, which encompasses Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Tenants on average spent nearly 60 percent of their monthly income on rent, up from around 37 percent in February of 2021. Rents in the area have risen by 55 percent in the past year to $2,929 for a studio-to-two-bedroom apartment, according to the report.
Tampa and Orlando also saw housing affordability drop. Rents in both areas have shot up by more than 30 percent in the past year. In Tampa, renters now put 44 percent of their earnings toward housing, and in Orlando, 36 percent.
Los Angeles clocked in as the second-most rent-burdened market. Half of the average Angeleno’s income now goes to rent, up from 39 percent in February 2021. In New York, 40 percent of earnings go toward housing, compared to 36 percent in the same month last year.
San Francisco rents have not bounced back as much. However, as of February, the average tenant is still rent-burdened, turning over about 30 percent of her income to a landlord.
Some cities have enacted measures to help tenants cope with the soaring price of housing. As of last week, landlords in Miami-Dade must give tenants at least 60 days’ notice to raise the rent by 5 percent or more. The protection comes as some owners have reported 50 percent hikes.
Tenant advocates in New York, meanwhile, are pushing for good cause eviction. The legislation would afford tenants who experience a rent increase of more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the regional inflation rate, whichever is higher, a defense against eviction. Landlords would have to justify the increase in court to proceed with an eviction for non-payment.
For many tenants, the burden of rent comes as rising costs for goods and services have pushed inflation to a 40-year-high. Higher rents feed into the consumer price index, which measures inflation.