Real Estate News

Miami is the worst city in the U.S. for renters, study says

Miami-Dade County once again is being counted among the country’s most expensive places to rent an apartment. And this time, we’re dead last.

According to a new study by the online marketplace Apartment List, Miami-Dade County has the biggest percentage of cost-burdened renters of any major city in the U.S. That statistic landed it the dubious rank of 100 out of 100.

Nearly 63 percent of renters in Miami-Dade were cost-burdened in 2016 — which means they paid more than 30 percent of their incomes to their landlord. Almost 34 percent of Miami-Dade renters are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half their paychecks on rent.

“Miami is not the most expensive city rent-wise,” said Apartment List senior research analyst Sydney Bennet, who conducted the study. “But when you look at what people are spending on rent and what they can actually afford, the biggest gap is in Miami.”

Using data from the U.S. Census, the study looked at the share of income that people spend on their rent in metros across the country.

The number of renters across the U.S. is nearing 44 million households, or 37 percent of the population. The total number of cost-burdened renters fell to 49.7 percent, the lowest since the 2007 recession. But that’s still nearly double the percentage of cost-burdened renters in 1960, when it stood at 24 percent.

Although Miami rents aren’t as high as in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle or New York, a greater share of the renters there make higher incomes, so the burden is lower. Other cities, such as Dallas, still have plenty of available land to develop, so rental housing can be built to fill demand and keep rents lower.

As of Sept. 30, the median rent price in Miami-Dade for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,981, according to Zillow. The number of rental households in Miami-Dade is projected to reach 700,000 by the year 2030, which would require an additional 185,414 units to meet demand. But at the current pace, new construction will only reach 69,400.

Even worse, many of those new apartments will be too pricey to be within reach of workforce salaries.

Bennet said Miami renters can be divided into two general groups: younger professionals who are willing or able to spend more on rent in prime locations, and lower-income residents pushed far from the most desirable neighborhoods by steep rents.

“Doubling up with roommates and eating ramen is one thing,” she said. “It’s another thing for families who can’t afford to pay for healthcare, the water bill and groceries. You have no discretionary income to save up to buy a car. The consequence is that people decide to move out of a metro. You lose a lot of working-class families.”

There is one bit of good news, though: Our paychecks are getting a little bit bigger.

The financial website SmartAsset ranked Miami first in a list of the top 10 U.S. cities with the fastest-growing median incomes, with a 16 percent jump from just under $30,000 in 2015 to $34,900 in 2016. Eventually, Miami-Dade might even catch up with the national median income of $57,000.

Rene Rodriguez: 305-376-3611, @ReneMiamiHerald

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