Department of Numbers

US Residential Rent and Rental Statistics

Median monthly gross residential rent in the United States was $981 in 2016 according to the Census ACS survey.1 Average gross rent was $1,050 in 2016. Median rent more accurately depicts rental rates in the middle of the distribution of rents than average rent and is thus preferred in the analysis below. 2017 US median and average rent data will be released in September of 2018.

Data is also available below for US rental vacancy rates, US rent as a percent of median income and the fraction of renters in the US.

Show dollars as: Nominal Real

Real Gross Rent in the US (2016 dollars)2

2016 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
Median Gross Rent $981 +0.93% +7.80%

US Real Gross Rent Trends

At $981, real median gross rent in the United States was at its highest level in 2016 since the series began in 2005. At $1,050, real average gross rent in the United States was at its highest level in 2016 since the series began in 2005.

Real Gross Rent in the US: Median, Average

Median and average gross rent

Real Gross Rent History for the US

Date US Median US Average
2016 $981 $1,050
2015 $972 $1,034
2014 $942 $1,000
2013 $910 $967
2012 $898 $952
2011 $898 $949
2010 $912 $963
2009 $916 $964
2008 $932 $982
2007 $885 $927
2006 $895 $930
2005 $869 $901

US Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate is the fraction of homes for rent that are not occupied.3 In 2016 the rental vacancy rate for the United States was 5.89% according to Census ACS data.

Rental Vacancy Rate in the US

2016 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US Vacancy Rate 5.89% +0.04% -0.60%

Trends in the US Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate in the US peaked in 2009 at 8.43%. Since then it has fallen by 2.54% to 5.89%. Data records for this series originated in 2005. From a 2015 post peak low of 5.85%, the rental vacancy rate has increased by 0.04%.

Rental Vacancy Rate: National

Rental vacancy rate in the United States

US Rent as a Fraction of Income

Using median household income data for the US, we can calculate the fraction of income the median household would use to pay rent at the median monthly gross rent rate. For the US, median monthly gross rent as a fraction of median household income was 20.43% in 2016 according to the ACS.

US Median Annual Rent as a Fraction of Median Household Income

2016 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US Median Annual Rent as Fraction of Median Household Income 20.43% -0.20% -0.35%

Trends in US Rent as a Fraction of Income

The fraction of median US household income required to pay median monthly gross rent peaked in 2014 (relative to the 2005 series origin) at 20.89%. Since then it has fallen by 0.46% to 20.43%.

Fraction of Income towards Rent: National

Percent of median household income going towards median monthly gross rent in the United States

Renter Fraction in US

You can calculate the renter fraction in the US in at least two ways: by housing units or by population. I've gone with the housing units measure here. This measure looks at the number of renting households in the US as a fraction of total US households. In 2016 36.88% of households were renters according to Census ACS data.

US Fraction of Renters by Household Units

2016 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US Renter Fraction 36.88% -0.09% +0.38%

Trends in the US Renter Fraction

The the US household renter fraction peaked in in 2015 at 36.97% and is now 0.09% below that level. The origin year for the series is 2005.

Fraction of Renting Households: National

Fraction of renters in the United States

History of Above US Rental Statistics

Date Vacancy Rate Percent Income Renter Fraction
2016 5.89% 20.43% 36.88%
2015 5.85% 20.63% 36.97%
2014 6.32% 20.89% 36.90%
2013 6.49% 20.78% 36.50%
2012 6.77% 20.65% 36.09%
2011 7.40% 20.70% 35.42%
2010 8.17% 20.50% 34.65%
2009 8.43% 20.12% 34.13%
2008 7.86% 19.00% 33.36%
2007 7.87% 18.66% 32.80%
2006 7.70% 18.90% 32.73%
2005 7.74% 18.89% 33.10%

1. Gross rent is defined as contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, water, and sewer) and fuel (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). Because some rentals include utilities and others don't, gross rent is a way of normalizing the variability.

2. Real dollars are calculated using the CPI-U less shelter series.

3. The rental vacancy rate is computed by dividing the number of vacant units for rent by the sum of the renter-occupied units, vacant units that are for rent, and vacant units that have been rented but not yet occupied.