It used to always be that if you couldn’t afford to buy a home, you could always still rent a decent place to live. Unfortunately, that’s becoming a much greater challenge for those who now describe themselves as belonging to the “middle class.”

            In fact, many of us who have now lived in rental apartments and houses for the past five or ten years would probably not be able to qualify to move into them if we reapplied now. Why is this true? It's because the general rule of thumb for landlords/proper managers has been that a tenant’s rental fees should never require more than 30% of the person’s gross income.

            Today, many rental tenants find themselves paying very close to somewhere between 40 and 50% of their gross monthly salary for rent – especially when you add in basic utility expenses.

            Here are some rather frightening statistics shared regarding this crisis in a recent New York Times article.

Current Facts Regarding Escalating Monthly Rental Fees in the U. S.

  • New forecasts indicate that rents could rise as much as 4% in 2014, compared to just 2.8% in 2013;
  • At this time in Miami, Florida, the average monthly rental fee consumes 43% of a renter’s gross income. While this is one of the country's highest rental fee areas, far too many much smaller and less scenic cities and towns across America are seeing these percentages keep jumping higher;
  • “Even dual-income professional couples are being priced out of the walkable urban – poor neighborhoods where many of them want to live;”
  • One explanation for this new shortage of affordable rental properties is that “between 2007 and 2013, the United States added, on net, about 6.2 million tenants, compared with 208,000 homeowners.”

Sample American Cities Where Rental Fees Are Jumping

            Many cities that aren’t terribly popular are also seeing a significant jump in monthly rental fees – be they for homes, apartments or condos. Of course, they're mixed in with far more desirable locations – in terms of jobs, climate and overall cost of living expenses.

            The following cities all currently require at least 37% of a person's monthly gross income – if you can talk the landlord into “taking a chance” on you. (The approximate percentage of income is noted out by the side of each following city. The graph states this is “median rent as a share of the median income.)”

  • College Station, Texas.          41.8
  • Los Angeles, California         47.0
  • New York City , NY              39.5
  • Boulder, Colorado                 37.2
  • Flagstaff, AZ                         37.8

Even cities that didn't quite reach this arbitrary number of 37% are also experiencing sizable jumps. For example, rental fees have even climbed up to roughly 35 – 37% in such cities as Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Ocean City, New Jersey; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

How Should Debt-Ridden Renters Respond?

Be sure to do whatever you can to keep your rental fees as low as possible. If you can move back home for a little while and pay no rent while living with reasonably pleasant family members – you might want to reconsider that option. If not, you may sadly have to join the many who are putting most of their possessions in storage and just renting a room in a house.                   Hopefully, if you’ll become proactive about your situation – perhaps by taking on a second job – you can avoid falling deeper into debt and constantly spending less each month on such necessities as food, clothing and discretionary medical care/prescriptions.


If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so that you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.


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