U.S. rental vacancy rates declined from 8.4% in 2009 to 7.4% in 2011, according to an American Community Survey brief released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the Census Bureau, approximately four times as many metro areas experienced declines in rental vacancy rates as those that experienced increases. The share of U.S. households that rent rather than own increased from 34.1% in 2009 to 35.4% in 2011. Nearly a quarter of the nation's metro areas saw a rise in renting households, while less than 3% of the nation's metro areas saw a decline.
Furthermore, the Census Bureau found that more renters are spending a high percentage of their household income on rent. The share of renters with high housing costs rose from 42.5% in 2009 to 44.3% in 2011. However, average rental rates in the United States declined from 2009 to 2011.
Among the 50 most populous metro areas, some of the heaviest rental costs were borne by renters in metro areas in Florida, California and Louisiana. Among the 50 most populous metro areas, only two became affordable for more renters – Richmond, Va., with a decline from 42.7% to 39.5% between 2009 and 2011, and Buffalo, N.Y., with a decline of 45.6% to 42.6%.
‘While we saw a decrease in rental vacancy rates and pricing in some areas, the burden of rental costs on households increased across many parts of the nation,’ says Arthur Cresce, assistant division chief for housing characteristics at the Census Bureau. ‘Factors such as supply and demand for rental housing and local economic conditions play an important role in helping to explain these relationships.’