In New York City, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment was nearly three thousand dollars in 2016, almost one thousand dollars more than the average rent in London, another notoriously expensive city. The monthly median asking rent for unfurnished apartments in the United States increased by nearly 50 percent between 2006 and 2016. For many people, this rapid increase in rental rates is an enormous financial burden and there has been a public outcry about how unaffordable living in certain U.S. cities is. In New York, where on average between 37 and 52 percent of household income goes towards rent, a rent increase of even a hundred dollars could be devastating.
In the last decade, there has been a downward trend in rental vacancy rates, decreasing from approximately 40 percent in 2009 to just over 25 percent in 2016, reflecting the increasing demand for rental units. This scarcity could partially explain the rapidly increasing rental rates. In addition, a 2016 survey revealed that developers are building fewer and fewer affordable rental units and shifting their attention to building more expensive units.
The majority of American renters live in single family homes, followed by structures with five or more units, such as apartment buildings. In 2016, half of the residents of rental properties in the United States were under thirty years old. A recent survey found that among low income renters, 16 percent were not able to pay rent in full for one month in the past three months.