Rent prices going up in Tucson during pandemic

Rent on the rise

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Rents have increased in Tucson by 6% in 2020, and 4.2% since the pandemic began in March.

While most urban centers are seeing rents drop from 15% to 20%, Tucson is bucking the trend.

“All of the cities we see rents going up are the ones which are traditionally smaller and traditionally more affordable,” said Rob Warnock, an analyst for Apartment List. “They’re outside the denser metropolitan areas.”

Much of that would be in the Southwest and includes Phoenix as well.

One reason Tucson is seeing an increase during the pandemic is likely a result of the changes in work habits and work environments, like the wave of remote work.

An employee in Seattle, for instance, doesn’t have to live in Seattle to do work which can be done remotely.

“People don’t necessarily have to say I gotta live in Seattle to have a job that pays what I make in Seattle,” Warnock said. “Instead I can have a job in Seattle but I can take that income to Tucson.”

Much of the search activity in the rental market are people who are not looking to move up but are looking for places that are more affordable and “that’s driving a lot of people to the sunbelt,” Warnock said.

The City of Tucson is in the middle of a housing study to determine the gaps between renters and home owners in different parts of the county. It will release Phase II of the three phase study next week.

The study started two years ago and when finished will assist the city in making housing decisions, especially in affordable housing.

The study shows that more than half the people in Tucson are rent burdened, which means they spend more than 30% of their income on housing, many as much as half their income.

“A lot of the attention right now is driven by people who are not so financially burdened by what’s happening today,” Warnock said. “Unfortunately that exacerbbates the problem for the people who are and it’s a reality many cities are facing right now."

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