Denver Rent Prices Take Another Jump After Year of Decline

Civic Lofts, at 360 West 13th Avenue, is currently offering apartments ranging from $1,200 to $2,645 for studios to two bedrooms.
Civic Lofts, at 360 West 13th Avenue, is currently offering apartments ranging from $1,200 to $2,645 for studios to two bedrooms. Google Maps
Prior to the pandemic, rent prices in Denver were already sky-high and increasing monthly — and now this trend seems to be picking up where it left off. Last month, the average rent in Denver rose by more than 1 percent, easily topping the bump in February, which followed a year of unanticipated cost declines.

Rents are still climbing in most Denver suburbs, too.

The April 2021 Rent Report from Apartment List reveals that in March, the average rent in Denver jumped 1.3 percent over the previous month; the hike in February had been 0.9 percent. And while rent is still down 4.6 percent from this time last year and the current rise remains well below the pricing trajectory across the country over the same period, the gap is getting smaller: In February, the year-over-year slide was 5.1 percent.

This graphic shows what's been happening to Denver rent since March 2020, when restrictions related to COVID-19 were first put in place:

Granted, things could be worse. Compared to rent in other cities across the country, Denver remains solidly in the middle of the pack — more expensive than other Colorado locations, including Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, and other major metro areas such as Phoenix and Austin, but considerably under California-based rent leaders and more.

See the comparisons here:

Despite dropping rents in Denver, many Mile High renters chose to head to the suburbs during the spread of the novel coronavirus. In our November 2020 post on the subject, Rob Warnock, author of Apartment List's "The Suburban Rent Rebound," listed a series of contributing factors, including "the rapid adoption of remote work, increased value of having more space to live and work, and so many people entering the for-sale market."

Such demand contributed to month-over-month rent increases in all nine of the Denver suburbs tracked by Apartment List; last month, just five of the nine saw increases. Still, seven of the nine outlying communities have registered year-over-year price leaps.

Could legislative help be on the way?

Yesterday, HB21-1121, a measure sponsored by representatives Dominique Jackson and Iman Jodeh and Senator Julie Gonzales, passed its third reading in the Colorado House. Known as "Residential Tenancy Procedures," the bill "prohibits residential landlords from increasing rent more than one time in a twelve-month period of tenancy" while extending required notification of eviction procedures from ten to fourteen days. Next stop: the state Senate.

But in the meantime, rent bargains in Denver are becoming increasingly hard to find.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts