Newsfeed: 60% of renters saw rent increases in the past 12 months, Freddie Mac survey shows

By Ronda Lee

Renters across the country are feeling the brunt of housing inflation.

Nearly 60% of renters said their rent increased in the past 12 months, according to a Freddie Mac survey of 2,000 Americans conducted in June and given exclusively to Yahoo Money. Nearly a third of those surveyed reported an increase of more than 10%.

Overall, three in five households are concerned about their ability to pay for housing in the next 12 months, with one in five renters saying rent hikes made it more likely they will miss a rent payment.

The survey results underscore how rent affordability has worsened as homebuyers pushed out of the housing market entered the rental market, triggering competition and rent increases. Adding to their burden are rapidly rising prices on everything else.

“The surge in rents that took place over the last 12 months has created even greater housing uncertainty for the most vulnerable renters,” Kevin Palmer, head of Freddie Mac Multifamily, told Yahoo Money. “Our survey shows that the national housing affordability crisis is worsening and that inflation is a key driver.”

Aside from housing, the biggest impacts on respondents’ spending were groceries, cited by 66% of respondents, transportation (54%), eating out (51%), and utilities (49%), according to the survey.

As a result, nearly half are spending less on non-essential items like entertainment, while 44% are saving less and 41% are reducing their spending on basic necessities like food and utilities. Those cuts aren’t necessarily enough, with one in five households reporting their paychecks don’t cover the essentials.

“Inflationary pressures means consumers across the board are making difficult choices — making trade-offs on bills to pay or not being able to pay their bills at all,” Palmer said. “Consumers are much more strained than before the pandemic and surviving in day-to-day life is more expensive.”

Renters are least equipped to absorb higher prices, according to the survey. Only 38% of employed renters reported getting a raise, compared with 48% of employed homeowners. Of renters who received a raise, a third said the raise wasn’t enough to compensate for their rent increase.

Nationwide the median rent rose to $1,876 in June, a new record for the 16th consecutive month, according to Realtor.com. Those increases come after pandemic-era rental assistance programs and rent moratoriums have expired, creating an especially difficult situation for the lowest-earning renters, many of whom lost jobs in the last two years.

The average minimum-wage worker needs to work 79 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom at fair market rent or 96 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom, according to a new National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) “Out of Reach” report.

If wages were adjusted for inflation and rents, the average person needs to earn $21.25 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment and $25.82 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

To help with rent affordability, Freddie Mac has programs to encourage and incentivize multi-family owner-operators with tenants to keep units affordable, like its targeted affordable housing, Palmer said.

“Freddie Mac Multifamily is charging toward a record year for our affordable housing work,” Palmer said. “But it’s going to take a concerted, sustained and comprehensive effort to turn the tide.”

 


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