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Higher rent costs in Denver metro area pricing people out of their homes

Construction in downtown Denver
Posted at 1:38 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 15:38:59-04

DENVER — Rent costs throughout the Denver metro area continue to climb, so much so they are pricing some residents out of their current homes.

Denver7 talked to Sarah Gardineer from Arvada, who posted on Reddit after her complex informed her of an impending 30 percent climb in rental price.

Gardineer, who has lived in the Denver area for five years, is no stranger to the skyrocketing home prices. When it came time to renew her lease, she says she and her partner were bracing for an increase — just not one as steep as they are now facing.

“I was originally told it was going to be going up by 12 to 15 percent,” Gardineer said. “Much to our surprise, we found out that our rent was going up about $500 per month, or 30 percent more than we’re paying now. When I asked if there was any negotiating ability to lower the increase, I was told no, which was even more frustrating. And I felt very helpless.”

Gardineer’s experience is not an outlier. It’s part of the trend in the Denver metro.

A report from University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business found that average rents are up $222 over the past year, constituting a 13 percent increase. That is well above the increases seen in wages, and even the record inflation seen with other costs in the U.S.

“It feels like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back every time prices increase,” Gardineer said. “It just constantly feels like I’m being pushed down and can’t really get ahead to make a life for myself.”

Even with the higher rent prices, landlords aren’t having trouble finding renters willing to pay. The same research from DU found that only about four percent of Denver’s apartment units were empty, and that the metro is adding units at a much slower rate than demand.

Rent prices are expected to climb even higher, with increasing home prices and mortgage rates placing home ownership even more out of reach for many renters.

Gardineer, her partner and their two dogs have found a new home to rent, within their budget. But it wasn’t easy, and it highlights the struggles so many are facing as they try to find a home in Denver.

“I didn’t sleep for a week,” Gardineer recalled of her home search. “I was up on apps, I was up on Craigslist messaging people pretty much nonstop. I probably sent out about 50 messages to local landlords, and was lucky enough to have a few folks reach back out to me.

“We’re lucky, my partner and I, because we can pay a little bit more in rent. What I sort of worry about is for individuals in this complex who may be older or retired, or don’t have as high of an income, who may not be able to handle these rent increases. And I worry for those individuals in that they’re being priced out of their homes and may not have the ability to find housing as quickly as we did.”