Sunday, December 4 2022

Renters continue to face high prices in Denver, even though median rents fell slightly from August to September.

This decline is cold comfort for people who cannot afford the city.

With eviction cases returning to pre-pandemic levels and federal funding for housing assistance programs drying up, the coming months are filled with uncertainty for them.

Denver rents fell 0.2% from August to September, according to Apartment List online rental site data.

But zoom out from a monthly data review, and Denver rents are still 4% higher than they were this time last year – and even then, they have been trending up for years.

The median rent for a one bedroom is currently $1,441 and that for a two bedroom is $1,782.

The professional organization of donors, the Colorado Apartment Association, is reviewing quarterly figures for its analysis, and third quarter figures are not yet available. But vacancy rates are still low, which will continue to drive high rents, said Andrew Hamrick, the group’s senior vice president of government affairs.

“Average rent increased by $84 during the second quarter,” Hamrick wrote to Denverite. “If you look at the last 12 months, annual rent growth has been 15.5%. Admittedly, this may seem a bit small compared to the growth in house prices, but rental rates are always less volatile than the growth in purchase prices.

“It will probably be another month or so before we see the third quarter numbers compiled, but I can’t predict anything that will materially alter this low vacancy rate and the corresponding upward pressure on rental rates,” he said. he added.

Denver has not experienced the same annual growth rate as the rest of Colorado or the country.

“Denver’s year-over-year rent growth is below the state average of 5.1%, as well as the national average of 7.5%,” according to the Apartment List October report. Rent Report.

The median two-bedroom rent here is $1,782, while the national average is $1,360.

And there are certainly more affordable options in the state. In Colorado Springs, the median two-bedroom rent is $1,580; Fort Collins at $1,560 and even Phoenix at $1,480 all offer better deals than Denver.

The ten largest cities in the metropolitan area all saw an increase in rents.

Parker, where rent fell 2.6% last month, has the highest two-bedroom median rent at $2,183.

Westminster saw the fastest year-on-year growth at 7.1%. Two bedrooms cost $2,119 per month, while single bedrooms cost $1,778.

The closest thing to a deal you’ll find in the metro area is in Brighton, where the median two-bedroom rent is $1,467, still up 4.3% over the past year .

Evictions are on the rise after a drop during the pandemic.

In September, Denver had 771 eviction cases, just two fewer than in 2019, according to Denver County Court data.

That’s far more than the 495 evictions in September 2020 and the 422 in September last year.

This year has already seen more eviction filings than in all of 2020 or 2021, but remain, generally, at lower rates than 2019.

These deposits do not necessarily reflect the number of people who moved after being threatened with eviction but before the start of formal legal proceedings.

Statewide eviction rates have also returned to pre-pandemic levels, Hamrick said, reviewing the past 20 years of filings in Colorado.

Less than 15% of those filings lead to a sheriff-directed move, he noted. “It’s been a very steady return to normality and flat over the past four months,” he said.

That normality may not last long, said Zach Neumann, the head of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.

“I think what we find concerning is that we are heading into the final phase of using federal emergency rental assistance, and that raises concerns,” he said. .

When that money is gone, one of the main resources people facing eviction use to stay in their homes when they can’t pay rent will be gone.

“I think it’s really going to create significant difficulties,” he said.

Some will self-evict and leave without legal process. Others take out loans, pay rent with credit cards or go to payday lenders for cash. And others will be forcibly evicted.

“In all of these scenarios, from the first to the last, you’re talking about pretty significant hardship for families to borrow money in a way that really hurts the family balance sheet in the long run,” he said. “None of this really looks great. It’s just a matter of how bad it is.

Most of the rent support funding comes from federal emergency funds that are unlikely to be renewed and cannot be replaced at the state level without a public vote under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR. , Neumann said.

“It’s not something the state under TABOR could ever match,” he said. “That doesn’t mean the state shouldn’t do anything, but it’s certainly difficult to continue serving at the level we’ve seen.”

Denver Deals free legal representation for people facing eviction who earn 80% of the region’s median income, or currently $105,500 for a family of three. Voters will decide in November whether to extend this right to free representation to Denver residents of all income levels thanks to a new tax on owners.

But without federal housing assistance funding, those lawyers will struggle to keep people housed, Neumann said.

“I think the work of lawyers in this space when defending clients in non-payment cases becomes considerably more difficult when there is no ability to apply for and receive emergency housing assistance. “, did he declare. “The best defense against an eviction is being able to give your landlord a check from a rental assistance program.”

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