Renting Statistics: Facts and Research in 2021

Key statistics and insights

  • In 66% of housing markets, buying is more affordable than renting. (ATTOM Data Solutions)
  • 44.1 million American households are renters. (National Multifamily Housing Council)
  • In the year 2016, 27% of Americans rented their homes. (Statista)
  • Nationwide, renters spend around $485 billion in rent every year. (PolicyAdvice)
  • 48,248 (0.11%) of rental homes are rent-controlled. (iPropertyManagement)
  • The average renter’s insurance policy costs $180 per year. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Black and Hispanic households are twice as likely to rent compared to white households. (Pew Research)
  • The median U.S. rent accounts for 29.1% of the average American household income. (Zillow)

 

Should you rent or buy a home?

Talk to a financial professional and they’ll always tell you to buy instead of rent. Your home would be an asset, and you’re paying towards something like an investment. However, as global housing market prices continue to rise in an increasingly unstable economy, many are turning to renting as the better option, if not the only one. Landlords are seeing an influx in applications to rent properties, both commercial and residential. With just a little research, we can see just how much the housing market and commercial landscape has changed. 

Combined data from housing resources like the National Multifamily Housing Council and the Insurance Information Institute, along with private housing data from Zillow and Apartment List, a more complete picture of the evolution of renting in America begins to take shape. Along with The Zebra’s own proprietary data, you can decide for yourself if you should rent or buy your next home. 

 

Table of contents

  1. Renting statistics in 2021
  2. Renting statistics through the years
  3. Rent control statistics
  4. Commercial rent statistics
  5. Homeownership vs renting statistics
  6. Affordable housing statistics
  7. Millennial renting statistics
  8. Renters insurance: what you need to know
  9. FAQs about renting 



Renting statistics in 2021

In April of 2021, The Zebra surveyed 1500 Americans for insight into renting patterns and home buying data. An overview of the statistics reveals that most Americans purchased their homes young, pay a reasonable monthly rent, and have some combination of bundled insurance products to protect their assets. 

  • 57.9% of respondents own their homes outright.
  • 32.8% of respondents purchased their homes between the ages of 24 and 34.
  • The majority of respondents (18%) of respondents pay between $500 and $1000 for their monthly rent or mortgage.
  • Over half of respondents have either auto, home, life, or medical insurance.
  • 22.4% of respondents have an exceptional credit score, while other studies show that most renters only have a fair credit score. 
  • In our survey, 7.7% of respondents had a fair (580-669) credit score. 
  • Most people (9.9%) reported their biggest obstacle to owning a house would be the affordability of the area. 
insurance products owned

 

Renting statistics through the years

For more information on renters statistics, consider the full reports from their sources: the Insurance Information Institute, Pew Research, NMHC, Apartment List, the Department of Numbers, Statista, iPropertyManagement, and MySmartMove.com. 

  • The national average rent for an apartment was $1,474 in December 2019.
  • Sacramento, CA has the highest rent in the nation. 
  • The average tenant has a credit score of around 650. This means that tenants are less credit-worthy.
  • In 2015, 74.4% of rental properties were owned by individual investors and not corporations.
  •  Less than one-third (28%) of tenant applicants have a criminal record.
  • On average, landlords screen two applicants per property.
  • There are about 2,654 new renters every day.
  • 91 of the 100 largest U.S. cities have seen rent increases over the last year.
  • 49% of American renters are under 30.
  • 77% of the people in the US prefer to rent instead of buying a home.
  • The average gross rent was $1,164 in 2019.
  • Rent prices nationwide increased by almost 50% from 2007 to 2017.
  • There are more people renting now than at any point since 1965
  • 127 working hours is the weekly requirement for minimum wage earners to afford the average apartment.
  • Only 37% of renters have renter’s insurance.
  • The average monthly premium for renters insurance is about $15 a month, coming out to $180 a year.
  • 17% of renters live in a duplex.

 

Rent control statistics

The following statistics are taken from these sources: the National Bureau of Economic Research, the NMHC, and American Experiment.

  • 81% of economists believe that rent controls are bad policy.
  • There are 182 cities and municipalities with rent control or rent stabilization laws, mostly in California.
  • A total of 37 U.S. states have prohibited rent control outright.
  • Rent control systems have historically led to housing shortages and slums because there is little financial incentive to build new housing, let alone maintain existing housing.
  • Moderate rent stabilization laws can encourage residential stability and mixed-income communities and limit gentrification and displacement.

 

Commercial rent statistics 

Please refer to the National Association of Realtors, Statista, and IBISWorld for additional data concerning the data below:

  • Commercial real estate prices rose at a 1.4% annual rate from September 2019 to 2020.
  • 54% of respondents reported an increase in missed, late, or partial payments for industrial, retail, and office spaces.
  • Based on annual rent, 5th Avenue in New York City has the most expensive retail rates in the world.
  • The value of commercial construction amounted to $8.12 billion in the first half of 2019
  • Commercial construction in the United States amounts to about 6.2 billion dollars only in the first half of 2018
  • In 2017, the commercial property industry built almost $87 billion worth of new properties.
  • Leasing agencies in the U.S. bring in more than $216 billion every year.

 

Homeownership vs renting statistics

The following data is taken from leading housing authority sources, including The United States Census Bureau, the National Association of Realtors, World Property Journal, and The Mortgage Reports.

  • 65.8% of Americans own their homes outright. 
  • The homeownership rate was 3.8% points higher than the rate in the second quarter of 2019 and 2.6% points higher than the rate in the first quarter of 2020. 
  •  Renter households earn a median of $41,515 in 2017 while homeowners earn a median of $77,523.
  • Homeownership in the U.S. has been on the decline since 2005
  • In the second quarter of 2019, the Black homeownership rate dropped to 40.6%.
  • 95% of homeowners had Homeowners Insurance
  • Owning a median-priced three-bedroom home in the United States is more affordable than renting one.

 

Affordable housing rent statistics

These and additional statistics cited here are from national sources such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Monroe Group, Habitat for Humanity, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

  • For every 100 very low-income households, only 36 affordable rentals are available.
  • African-Americans are significantly more likely to be low-income renters.
  • The United States is short 7 million homes based on current needs. 
  • In 2019, 37.1 million households were considered “housing cost-burdened,” which means they spent 30% or more of their income on rent.
  • In 2017, there were nearly 5 million households in the United States receiving housing assistance.
  • In 2011, there were about 1.9 million households with children living in assisted housing in the United States.
  • There isn't a single county in the United States that can fill 100 percent of its low-income population's needs for safe and affordable housing.
  • To afford a basic two-bedroom apartment in the United States, renters need to earn an average of $20.30 per hour. Remember that minimum wage currently is just $7.25 per hour.

 

Millennial renting statistics

Additional data on the statistics below can be found at ApartmentList, MyMove, Valuepenguin, and Statista. 

  • 80% of millennials would like to eventually own a home
  • 38.5% of people who find themselves 35 and younger are homeowners.
  • 12.3% of millennial renters plan to “always rent.”
  • 25% of millennial renters will be able to afford a 10% down payment on a median-priced home in the next 5 years. If student debt obligations were dismissed, this would improve to 38% nationally, and more than 50% in some metropolitan areas.
  • 88% of millennials believe homeownership is important for personal success
  • Nearly three-quarters of millennials rent.
  • Millennial homeownership rates have fallen 20% in the past 10 years. 
  • Down payment is, for many, the largest expense and biggest financial obstacle to homeownership
  • Student debt remains another major barrier to homeownership.

 

How much is renters insurance?

After averaging rates from top companies across the nation, The Zebra found that the average annual rate for a renters insurance policy is $188, or $15.66 per month. Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance does not cover your dwelling — only everything inside the unit you are renting. Most renters insurance policies will explicitly state what is covered and what is not, so be sure to check your own before any accidents. 

As nationwide rent prices continue to fluctuate, renters insurance can become another financial burden. Take a look at our chart to find the average premium in your state. 

Renters insurance premiums by state

Below is a state-by-state breakdown of the cost of renters insurance.

StateAverage Rate for Renters Insurance

Average Monthly Premium

Alaska$111$9
Alabama$245$20
Arkansas$200$17
Arizona$157$13
California$223$19
Colorado$175$15
Connecticut$163$14
Washington DC$262$22
Delaware$210$18
Florida$227$19
Georgia$235$20
Hawaii$174$15
Iowa$124$10
Idaho$134$11
Illinois$156$13
Indiana$170$14
Kansas$213$18
Kentucky$186$16
Louisiana$340$28
Massachusetts$217$18
Maryland$255$21
Maine$155$13
Michigan$155$13
Minnesota$163$14
Missouri$189$16
Mississippi$327$27
Montana$155$13
North Carolina$175$15
North Dakota$117$10
Nebraska$165$14
New Hampshire$116$10
New Jersey$168$14
New Mexico$184$15
Nevada$179$15
New York$233$19
Ohio$166$14
Oklahoma$253$21
Oregon$165$14
Pennsylvania$124$10
Rhode Island$310$26
South Carolina$185$15
South Dakota$116$10
Tennessee$218$18
Texas$253$21
Utah$135$11
Virginia$166$14
Vermont$117$10
Washington$138$12
Wisconsin$119$10
West Virginia$177$15
Wyoming$107$9

 


 



FAQs about renters

 

Question: What percentage of Americans rent?

Answer: In the latter half of 2020, 89.1% of Americans rented their homes, according to iPropertyManagement.

 

Q: Do you need to make three times the monthly rent to be able to rent an apartment?

A: While there is no law enforcing the “3 x rent” rule, the basis of this rule comes from section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 that states renters must put at least 30% of their income towards their income and therefore, they should earn at least three times as much as the rent. 

 

Q: How many renters are there in 2019?

A: According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 43.6 million rent-based households in America. 

 

Q: How much profit should you make from a rental property?

A: According to investors, if you make at least a $100 profit on a rental property, then it is worth the time and effort to sink money into the property.

Taylor Covington LinkedIn

An in-house quantitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collects, organizes, and analyzes opinions and data to solve problems, explore issues, and predict trends. In her hometown of Austin, Texas, she can be found reading at Half Price Books or eating the world's greatest pizza at Via 313.