Renters Struggling Less, But Rents Set to Rise

Renters Struggling Less, But Rents Set to Rise

Survey shows tenants’ financial confidence growing sharply
renter standing in front of her building

A significant majority of renters — 82% — say they haven’t missed any rent payments during the past year, a strong improvement from September 2021, when only 57% could say the same, a new survey finds.

Tenants’ financial outlook is also trending upward. According to the January 2022 survey of landlords and renters, conducted by Avail, part of Realtor.com, the number of those who felt confident they could meet all their rent payments over the coming three months rose to 77% from just 38% in September 2021.

But even as more renters feel good about their ability to make their monthly payments, the survey also found that a majority of landlords are planning to raise the rent on at least one of their properties over the coming year.

Dramatic gains in renter confidence

Just a year ago, only 15% of respondents to the February 2021 Avail survey believed they would be able to make all their rent payments for the following three months. In the current survey, however, confidence in the ability to cover rent has jumped by more than fivefold.

The results mark a dramatic improvement from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, as of September 2021, more than 42% of renters said they had missed a rent payment at some point during the pandemic.

The survey also found that 46% of renters plan to move sometime in the next year, with just over half (52%) saying they expected to continue renting. This trend could be connected to a large number of Americans planning to change jobs over the coming month, as found by a separate recent survey.

Rents set to increase

But even as renters’ financial confidence heads higher, so too may rents.

The survey showed that a 61% majority of landlords report plans to increase prices for at least one of their properties in the next 12 months, with a typical planned increase of between 5% and 10%.

Landlords planning to raise rents gave the size of their increases as…

  • Less than 5% rent increase (38%)
  • 5%-10% (45%)
  • 10%-15% (9%)
  • 15%-20% (5%)
  • More than 20% (3%)

At the same time, roughly 16% of rental property owners said they would sell at least one of their properties. Among this group, 55% cited the desire to cash in on rising real estate values.

Where to find rental assistance

While more renters are able to cover rent, not all are doing so by sustainable means. More than 1 in 10 renters (13%) are using government aid or assistance to cover rent, and 11% are using savings, not so surprising, as a recent study shows many Americans are still living paycheck to paycheck.

For those who need assistance catching up on overdue rent — or covering future rent increases — more help may be available. For example, renters can navigate programs using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) rental assistance programs search tool.

Methodology: Avail's quarterly survey of landlords and renters was conducted online in the U.S. between Jan. 13-25, 2022. Approximately 1,156 landlords and 2,163 renters were surveyed.