‘It’s an apartment crisis’: Rent prices continue to rise for Utahns

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Local economists say Utah is in the midst of an apartment crisis. 

As supply chain issues persist and inflation is getting worse, Utahns are struggling to find affordable apartments.

Everywhere you look, prices have gone up. 

The best advice ABC4 was told Tuesday was to act fast because apartment prices fluctuate daily; make sure renter’s read their entire renter’s agreement or contract and know things will get better just not this year.

“People want to be mad at the landlord, but it’s really the economy that’s the problem in the big picture,” said Utah Apartment Association executive director Paul Smith.

The economy is making things worse for renters in Utah. 

As housing prices hit historic highs, apartment prices are not too far behind. 

“It’s much more expensive to operate an apartment than it has been in the past,” said Smith.

If you look at the apartment prices this year and last, you’ll see in 2021 apartment prices have risen 12 percent on average, but in 2020 it was a one percent average price hike. 

Meanwhile, home prices are up 24 percent this year, according to the Utah Apartment Association.

Smith said the state needs 55,000 more apartments to accommodate the rise in renters.

“Frankly, the problem with apartment prices is supply and we just don’t have enough supply,” said Smith.

“If we had more apartments and homes the prices would not go up as much.”

The home prices are drawing more renters, but there are not enough apartments to house all the new renters. 

Rep. Paul Ray said this needs to be discussed in the next legislative session. 

“It is going to get to the point where we have such a demand for housing that they really need to start rethinking and you kind of do mixed-use zoning to allow for a little bit of density,” said Ray.

Ray says he feels like the state can do more to fix this issue.

“So we need to really start pushing this with the cities and saying ‘hey guys we are done you need to start being more hospitable doing things to help us with the housing crisis,'” said Ray.

Meanwhile, Smith said it would be wise for the state to possibly get more involved to fix the apartment crisis. 

“In Utah, we have a rent control prohibition statute that basically says municipalities can’t control rents or set rent control, said Smith. “Only the state can set rent control, but our state has chosen not to set rent control.”

Smith said apartments typically go up three to five percent in price each year.

Twelve percent is out of the norm, but Smith adds landlords are having to adjust because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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