According to rental statistics, 43 million rental homes were occupied in the US in 2020. Owning a home with plenty of room and a spacious yard is the ultimate dream for many families. Although there are more homeowners than tenants, the rising prices of residential properties have pushed people to rent instead.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with living in rented homes, but it might be prudent to test out if renting is really the more economical choice for you and your family.
To help you determine which option is better, we have gathered some interesting statistics for you to take a look at. Read on to find out.
Top Rental Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- The US national average rent as of February 2021 was $1,124
- In the first 10 months of 2021, the national median rent has increased by 16.4%
- 15% of all renters in the US were behind on their rent payments in August 2021
- The District of Columbia has the highest rent out of 56 states and territories
- 45% of renters regret renting
- Rental households owe more than $20 billion to their landlords
- More than 15 million people are at risk of eviction
- 11% of all rent-based households use government programs to find and pay for housing
Worrying Rental Statistics in America
1. 62% of renters are anxious they won’t be able to make regular rent payments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dampened the nation’s general outlook. As a result, many people are wondering how they will cover even their basic living expenses, such as food and shelter, amidst rising unemployment rates. That said, 62% of renters are worried about the immediate future and the possible inability to pay rent regularly.
2. The average monthly rent in February 2021 was $1,124.
In the US, the average rent paid in February 2021 was $1,124. From 2017 to 2021, the average rent for all types of apartments has increased, but there is a subtle decrease compared to the figures before the pandemic. In other words, the average rent was $1,105 in January 2019.
3. In the first 10 months of 2021, the national median rent has increased by an astonishing rate of 16.4%.
This increase is at least five times higher than the average rent increase percentage during pre-pandemic years (2017–2019). To compare, the rent increase during these pre-pandemic years only averaged 3.2%. That said, some cities are witnessing an incredible rent prices increase—rents in Tampa, Florida are up 36% compared to March 2020.
4. 66% of renter households earning less than $25,000 have used their Economic Impact Payments on rent payment.
Rental payments are usually a top priority for any American household. However, rental market statistics show that rental households won’t be able to make regular rental payments given the current global health crisis that has affected the average American’s income. In addition, statistics show that a huge number of households won’t be able to make their monthly rental payments without any government aid.
5. By the end of 2021, the average American household will likely spend more than 30% of its income on rent.
Rental statistics show that the average household spent 25.8% of its income on rent between 1985 and 2000. Two decades later, the percentage is up by 4.4 points (30.2%). This is above the 30% threshold at which a person is classified as “housing cost-burdened.”
The higher the percentage, the more people will struggle to make payments. However, this percentage is not the same across the nation. For instance, rental analysis shows that this percentage goes up to 39.3% for Miami renters and is expected to rise to 40.3% by the end of the year.
6. Americans paid $512 billion in rent in 2019.
(The Real Deal)
According to 2019 data, the total rental payments in the US reached $512 billion. This figure is 10% more than the average rental bill of the decade. Reports attribute the 2019 total rental bill increase to the rising number of renters and the soaring rental rates.
7. Rental market analysis shows that 15% of American renters were behind on their rent in August 2021.
(National Equity Atlas)
Recent research showed that 15% of all renters have unpaid rents. What’s worrying is the fact that 48% are families with children. An estimated 6.7 million children in these households are in danger of being evicted. This number is closely approaching the 2008 foreclosure crisis that caused 8 million households to lose their homes.
8. Recent rental property analysis shows that single-family homes account for 39% of rental units in the US.
This type of rental unit just recently became popular. Real estate investors used to view single-family detached home rentals as less profitable because of increased maintenance and management costs.
However, the market is slowly shifting due to increased demand from older Millennials looking to relocate to safer suburban and rural areas but couldn’t afford to purchase a home. Nowadays, single-family detached homes account for a little over a third of all residential rental units in the US. Of course, the increased demand also caused a subsequent increase in the average monthly rent for a house.
9. The District of Columbia has the highest rent in the US.
According to the HUD, the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom home in DC is $1,765 per month. Fair Market Rent is essentially the 40th-percentile of typical prices for new renters in a given region. For perspective, the median value is the 50th-percentile.
When it comes to Fair Market Rent, DC is followed by Hawaii, where a two-bedroom home costs $1,798 to rent. California previously had the highest FMR, but it’s now fourth on the list. The average rent in California for a two-bedroom home is $1,526.
10. San Francisco saw the sharpest rent decline in Q1 of 2021.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, areas with high rents recorded the sharpest drop in rent prices. Due to job insecurity, many people moved out of the expensive apartments, and those who were considering renting a posh place decided to wait.
This resulted in rent reductions in typically expensive cities. For example, San Francisco saw a 20% drop in rent prices in the first quarter of 2021. San Jose recorded a 16.5% drop, followed by New York (15%) and Boston (8%). On the other hand, rents have increased in lower-cost markets like Boise (11%) and Fayetteville (10%).
Homeowners vs. Renters Statistics
There are advantages to each. Firstly, you don’t need large amounts of money to start renting, and the market is well-regulated, protects both parties in the contract, and minimizes the chance of misunderstandings. Secondly, homeownership means you’re investing your money instead of just spending it on rent.
11. 65.4% of households own the home they live in.
(Census Bureau, Pew Research Center)
According to homeownership vs. renting statistics released by the Census Bureau for the third quarter of 2021, there were 142.1 million households in the US. Moreover, 65.4% of these households own the home they live in, while the rest of these households rent their homes.
However, the percentages are not evenly distributed among races and ethnicities, as 58% of African-American or Black and 52% of Latino or Hispanic households rent their homes. On the other hand, rent statistics show that only 27.9% of white households live in rental homes.
12. 45% of renters regret renting rather than purchasing their homes.
(The Mercury News)
In a survey conducted among 10,000 homeowners and renters from 20 of the largest metros in the US, 45% of those living in rental housing said they regret not purchasing their own homes. There are three identified reasons for this.
The first reason is the lost opportunity in building equity on a home. The second is their inability to customize a rented home according to their personality and preferences. Lastly, they couldn’t control the steep rental rates for homes that are increasing year on year.
13. 38% of renters in the US state list not having enough money for a down-payment as the main reason for not buying a home.
In a recent survey, people who were asked about the reasons for not buying a home listed not having enough money for the down payment as the top reason. Other factors included a bad credit score (32%) and the COVID-19 pandemic (31%). In this case, a government assistance program that would help people allocate the money for a downpayment could change renting trends.
14. Homeowners in Rockingham County, NH save an average of $2,000 a month compared to renters.
In this second-most populous county in New Hampshire, the average mortgage rates per month are almost $2,000 less than the average rent. In general, the Northeast is best for people looking to buy a home instead of renting. Even though houses and apartments are not cheap there, it’s much more affordable to pay for a monthly mortgage than rent.
This applies to nearly every major Northeastern metro area. Rental statistics by zip code show that Rockingham County, NH, New Brunswick, NJ, and Newark, NJ top the list of metro areas where home buying is cheaper than renting. In New Brunswick, homebuyers save up to an average of $1,825 per month compared to renters, while in Newark, they save up to $1,681.
15. Renters in San Francisco, CA save nearly an average of $2,000 a month compared to homeowners.
The Bay area is generally expensive, whether you are buying or renting a home. However, with house prices regularly going over $1 million, it’s statistically cheaper to rent there. The average rent in the Bay Area is the fourth-highest in the US. In San Francisco, the average rent is $3,218 a month, whereas the average monthly mortgage is $5,201. In San Jose, the average monthly mortgage is $4,614, while rent is an average of $3,104.
16. US renters paid $4.5 trillion in rent between 2010 and 2020.
The rental market is one of the biggest sources of money for the economy. Zillow estimates that renters in the US paid a total of $4.5 trillion in the 2010s. This is a lot of money, considering that this amount is higher than Germany’s GDP in 2018. Moreover, in 2019 alone, Americans spent $512 billion on rent.
Rental Vacancy Rate
The vacancy rate of rental properties is a helpful indicator of the rental market’s health. When the vacancy rate falls below 7%, the demand for rental properties is said to be high. Conversely, if the vacancy rate increases to 12%, the demand is said to be low.
17. In 10 years, rental vacancy rates in the US decreased by 15%.
The US rental market has seen a decreasing trend in vacancy rates in the last 10 years. In 2009, vacancy was at an astonishing rate of 40%. However, in 2019, the rate decreased to 25%. This rental market trend reflects a growing demand for rental properties.
18. In the past five years, the apartment rental industry’s market size in the US has grown by an average of 2.7% annually.
In the past five years, the market size of the apartment rental industry in the US has seen a steady increase. The shortage of affordable rental units and a surplus of luxury units contributed to the average annual rental increase. Moreover, declining vacancy rates gave landlords more opportunities to charge higher rents. However, these trends were diminished in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the rise in unemployment that inevitably ensued.
19. Renters occupied about 43 million housing units in 2020.
The demand for rental units is on the rise. In 1975, there were only 25.66 million rented housing units. Experts believe that one of the reasons for the rental growth rate is that buying a home has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Subsequently, the increasing demand for rental properties has increased rent prices.
20. More than 15 million people are at risk of eviction.
To fight the effects of a pandemic-induced financial crisis, the United States federal government gave financial aid to a significant number of renters who lost their jobs. It also proclaimed a moratorium on evictions in cases of renters failing to pay rent.
However, with the moratorium’s expiration and steady rise of average rent in the US, many renters are in danger of being evicted. Some estimates say it’s more than 15 million people.
21. US rental households collectively owe more than $20 billion in rent.
The pandemic-induced economic crisis took its toll on the rental market. The average debt owed to rental property owners surpasses $3,000. Factors that contributed to this high average rental debt include the rising unemployment numbers and prioritizing other basic needs in the home. Nowadays, 15 million Americans, consisting of 6.5 million households and 7.4 million adults, are in danger of being evicted.
22. National eviction statistics show that West Virginia has the highest percentage of renters facing eviction.
There are significant differences in percentages of renters facing eviction between states during this pandemic crisis. For example, with 60% of renters facing eviction, West Virginia is now the hardest-hit state, whereas only 22% of Vermont renters could lose their homes.
23. A prolonged eviction costs up to $10,000.
There are many expenses involved in evicting a tenant. Property management statistics show that these expenses include lost rents, legal fees, cleaning costs, repair costs, etc. The worst-scenario evictions, where the landlords have to go to court and make substantial repairs, can result in losses of up to $10,000. Situations like these have made tenant screening services very popular. By doing proper background checks and choosing good tenants, the landlords can reduce risks and costs to a minimum.
24. 10.3 million Americans filed income tax returns with rental properties.
Based on the latest data on individual income tax returns it received, the IRS calculated that approximately 10.3 million people earn from 17.7 million rental properties. These renting statistics don’t include rental properties owned by companies. That said, we can say that the average landlord in the US has 1.7 rental properties.
25. Total revenue from vacation rentals in the US is projected to exceed $16.6 billion in 2021.
Vacations are considered essential for our mental well-being. This is why it’s considered a stable industry and why we continue to see year-on-year growth in vacation rental industry statistics. In fact, the US vacation rental market is expected to reach $16.63 billion in 2021.
In comparison, the global revenue in vacation rentals is projected to be $59 billion. This growth is credited to the shift in the accommodation preference of vacationers from hotels to rental properties because of privacy and cheaper rates. These advantages are especially significant to travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
26. The apartment turnover rate fell by 5.4% from 2019 to 2020.
The turnover fell from 47.5% in 2019 to 42.1% in 2020, and that’s the lowest turnover rate in over two decades. There has been a continuing long-term decline in apartment turnover rates in the past years, but it was accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be explained by people’s reluctance to move amid a pandemic and the economic downturn and financial insecurity it has caused.
27. Almost half of the renters in 2019 were under 30 years old.
Statistics show that young people are the most common renters, and it’s hardly surprising. They just left their parents’ house or graduated college, and they are taking their first independent steps in life. Unfortunately, one of the first challenges they will have to face is the rising average renting price. As a result, 36% of them are late with their payments, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
28. 11% of US rent-based households use government programs to find and pay for housing.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has several subsidized assistance programs for people struggling to pay rent or find a home to rent. These programs include public housing, housing choice vouchers, and Section 8 programs.
In 2019, around 5 million households used these benefits, constituting 11% of all rent-based households in the US. Furthermore, 32% of these households are headed by single mothers.
With the average annual rent increase in the US of 3% to 5% in the past 10 years and the staggering 16.4% increase in median rent in 2021, renting has become a burden for many people.
The question of whether renting is a better option than buying a home depends on a household’s stability. Buying a home doesn’t seem wise for households that expect to move a lot, especially for career advancement. With recent rental stats in mind, households can see renting as part of a season of transitions.
Location is another thing to keep in mind. If you’re located in the Bay Area, you can save more by renting rather than paying a monthly mortgage. However, if you live in the Northeast, buying a home might make more sense.
People Also Ask
According to the US Census Bureau, almost 44 million American households lived in rented homes in the third quarter of 2021. Renter-occupied units make up an estimated 30.9% of the US housing inventory. Therefore, it can be said that approximately one-third of Americans live in rented homes.
Recent research shows that 15% of all renters have unpaid rents, and 48% are families with children. An estimated 6.7 million children live in households that are in danger of being evicted. The total rent owed to landlords has reached $20 billion, and the average sum owed per household is more than $3,000.
This collective debt in rental payments puts a lot of strain on landlords and renters, and with the eviction moratorium ending in most states, there is no doubt that the coming months will be more challenging for them.
According to the latest available data, the average rent paid in February 2021 was $1,124. The rate remained roughly the same throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2019, the average rent paid was $1,105.
Rent varies depending on the location and the size of the rental property. In February 2021, the average rent was $1,704 for a five-bedroom home and $929 for a studio apartment. By state, Hawaii has the highest average rent per month at $1,907, while West Virginia has the lowest average at $788.
Measured by revenue, the market size of the apartment rental industry in 2021 has reached $174.2 billion. In the last five years, it has grown 0.5% per year on average. The growth would be substantially higher if it weren’t for the 3.9% drop in 2021. The market is expected to recuperate in 2022 and continue to grow steadily.
In general, rents tend to be lower during the winter months — that is, between December and March. On the contrary, the “worst” months to start an apartment hunt are between May and October.
A recent study showed an average 3.4% difference between “cheap” and “expensive” periods. However, rents in some cities are more susceptible to seasonal changes. For example, New York sees a 4.7% price difference between seasons.
California, in general, is one of the most expensive states. The cost of land, labor, and raw materials is higher in California than in the rest of the country. In addition, it has limited land for building, high demand, and a large influx of people with high-paying jobs—all these factors contribute to high rents. That said, it’s even more expensive to buy a home in California. For example, rental statistics show that renters in the Bay Area can save up to $24,000 a year compared to homebuyers.
- Apartment List
- Aspen Institute
- Census Bureau
- Market Place
- National Equity Atlas
- Pew Research Center
- The Mercury News
- The Real Deal
- USA Facts