HOUSTON - More and more tenants are facing skyrocketing rents. It's forcing many to move, and others to struggle to find housing they can afford.
Rents are up 14.7% over the past twelve months in Houston, according to ApartmentData.com. The average rent is $1,200 a month, up from just under $1,050 at the same time a year ago. And occupancy is 91.5%.
"It went up," said La'Porsha Thomas of her rental property. "I went from paying $1000 to almost $1300."
"If I didn’t have a roommate currently, I would not be able to afford living there on my own," said another renter, Katie Willig.
"There are definitely a few things that I’ve noticed, apartments have been expensive," added renter Hayley Ockerhausen.
Many tenants say wages are not keeping up with skyrocketing rents.
"Even with jobs, they are not paying you the cost of living in Houston. So it’s hard," said Thomas.
"If you don’t have a good-paying job, I don’t know how you could afford that honestly," Willig told us.
Analysts say the 14.7% spike in rents is due to several factors, including booming demand from job growth and more people moving to Texas, coupled with a slowdown in apartment construction.
CoStar data shows 40,700 additional units are needed in the Houston area, but only 18,700 were built in 2021, and only 12,900 are projected for this year.
Plus property managers say they're facing higher costs for property taxes, utilities, insurance, supplies, and labor.
"We are seeing an increase in people having needs about affordability," said David Northern, Sr, President, and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority.
Northern says more renters are reaching out to HHA for what was already a shortage in affordable housing in the area.
"Most of our clients are low-income clients, communities most vulnerable, seniors with disabilities. It's really important that we want to message the right way to various landlords that are willing to lease to our clients," Northern explained.
One solution, he believes, is rent control.
"In Texas, there’s no rent control. Anybody can charge what they want for rent. Also, some of our clients that have vouchers, you can discriminate against them, you can say we don’t even want to lease to these people," Northern said.
Some Houstonians we talked to agree that some tenants need help.
"If they could subsidize housing for people making below a certain income, that would help, I'm sure," said Natasha Cigarroa.
Here are tips to reduce your rent:
- Get a roommate.
- Look for apartments in the winter, when rents are lower.
- Negotiate your rent with your landlord. They'd rather keep a good renter than pay the cost of finding a new one.
- Offer to pay a few months rent upfront for a discount.
- Sign a lease longer than a year.
- Give up your parking space or garage.
- Consider privately owned rentals.
- Move to a lower-cost area.
- Offer to do repairs or office work for your landlord.
- Ask for referral fees for referring new renters.