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Why are Utah rents so expensive? The latest Utah housing news

Federal officials recently extended the moratorium on evictions by one month – and they warned it would be the last time.

Housing advocates fear wave of evictions will follow moratorium expiration, and urge tenants in Utah affected by COVID-19 pandemic to get help now before it gets too much late.

But for tenants in Utah, the stress of the rental market is nothing new. For almost every year over the past decade, Utah rental prices have kept going up, up, up.

As Utah tenants continue to be in a hurry, when will they hit breaking point?

After a deep dive into Utah’s scorching real estate market, the Deseret News also delved into what’s going on with the state’s rental market – and why rates are likely to continue to climb.

Learn more about what the data shows, the struggles of Utah tenants, and how housing advocates say they can get help here.

Here are five takeaways from the Deseret News report:

The COVID-19 pandemic may have temporarily slowed rental rates, but now they continue to rise.

In the Salt Lake metropolitan area, the median cost of rent rose from $ 1,384 per month in March 2020, when the pandemic first struck here, to $ 1,451 per month a year later, an increase by 4.8%, according to a new report from Stessa .com. The site ranked the Salt Lake City metropolitan area No. 64 out of 105 U.S. cities where rents have changed the most since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increases drive down the price of tenants who could otherwise have afforded the same rental just a few years ago.

Almost every year for the past decade, Utah rental prices have climbed 5% to 7% per year along the Wasatch Front, a startling reality that means the average Salt Lake County apartment that cost $ 793 in 2008 now costs about $ 1,145. .

Prices climbed at the highest rate in Utah County, home of the Silicon Slopes tech industry.

From 2000 to 2018, rents in Utah County increased 83%, the largest increase in Wasatch Frontal counties.

Salt Lake County rental rates increased 78%. Davis and Weber counties grew 64% and 59%, according to a June 2019 report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

In Utah County, an average apartment that cost $ 719 per month in 2008 now costs around $ 1,200.

Rents exceed wages and inflation. Low vacancy rates are stimulating the market.

From 2000 to 2018, the average rent in Salt Lake County was more than double the rate of inflation. For example: In 2000, the average rent for an apartment was $ 647. If rent were to keep pace with inflation, the average rent for an apartment in Salt Lake County would be around $ 850 in 2018, almost $ 300 less than the actual 2018 average, according to the June 2019 report from the political institute.

Meanwhile, vacancy rates remain low. In Salt Lake County, vacancy rates fell nearly 9% in 2009 and are hovering around 4.5%, according to a 2020 CBRE Multifamily Market report. Vacancy rates are similar in Utah and Weber counties, and even lower in Davis County, at around 3.5%.

The impact? Thousands of Utahns are in danger. And the housing gap is widening.

An astonishing 1 in 5 Utah renters are considered “severely overcharged,” meaning they pay more than 50% of their income in rent, according to state and federal data.

Utah has approximately 284,935 renters statewide. Of those, 115,875 – about 40% or 2 in 5 Utah renters – are considered “overcharged” or pay more than 30% of their income in rent. According to the 2020 Utah Affordable Housing Report, about 52,890 Utah residents – about 20% or 1 in 5 Utah renters – are considered “severely” overcharged, which means that they pay more than 50% of their income in rent.

A gap in affordable and available rental units for renters earning less than 50% of the region’s median income in Utah has widened over the past decade, from 41,052 in 2010 to 49,545 in 2018, according to the November 2020 report of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. .

The waiting lists for housing are enormous. But there is always help.

In Salt Lake City alone, the wait list for the most common help, Section 8 vouchers, is estimated to be five years or less. Currently, there are over 7,000 Salt Lake families on this list, according to the Salt Lake City Housing Authority.

But while those waiting lists are long and daunting, housing advocates want Utah renters to know there is always help for them. Utah has approximately $ 180 million in government funding for tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the resources available to tenants here.


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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion