Could Denver Area Rent Go Up 25 Percent in a Year?

The Pullman, at 1959 Wewatta Street, has one-bedroom apartments available for $3,475 a month and two-bedrooms for $4,245.
The Pullman, at 1959 Wewatta Street, has one-bedroom apartments available for $3,475 a month and two-bedrooms for $4,245. Google Maps
After months of declines during the COVID-19 pandemic, rent prices in the Mile High City began climbing again a few months ago — and the pace is quickening. If the rate of recent rent increases continues over the next twelve months in metro Denver, the prices this time next year could be more than 25 percent higher than they are right now.

Denver's hike would be 28.8 percent — and the increases in suburban areas would be even higher.

The June 2021 Rent Report from Apartment List reveals that in May, the most recent month for which data is available, the average rent in Denver proper jumped 2.4 percent. Combined with a 1.8 percent bump from March to April, a 1.3 percent rise from February to March, and a 0.9 percent increase from January to February, that's over a 6.4 percent hike in just four months.

Meanwhile, all the savings that Denver renters enjoyed last year are now gone. As of April, Denver rent was still down 2.1 percent year over year. Now, it's up 1.2 percent.

This graphic shows what's been happening to Denver rent since May 2020, around the time shutdown orders related to COVID-19 were lifted:

As bad as these prices may seem, rents in many other parts of the metro area are higher than the Denver average of $1,640 for a two-bedroom, and they're going up faster. A look at ten nearby municipalities is led by Lone Tree, where the average two-bedroom now sits at $2,200 — but even rent in Englewood is $20 more than in Denver.

See the comparisons here:

The higher rents in the Denver suburbs are further detailed in the following graphic, which shows median one-bedroom and two-bedroom rents along with both month-over-month and year-over-year rent growth.

During May, Denver's rent didn't climb as quickly as did rent in Aurora and Thornton (up 2.5 percent), Littleton (up 2.6 percent), Lone Tree (up 3.2 percent) or Westminster (up 3.5 percent). Rent in Parker is already up 10.2 percent from this time last year, with Littleton close behind, at 9.7 percent — and there's no end in sight.

Rents are on the rise in many parts of Colorado, not just metro Denver. According to Apartment List, rents are up statewide by 5.5 percent over the past year, paced by a 12.3 percent spike in Colorado Springs; Fort Collins notched a 4.6 percent leap.

The national average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,165 — nearly $500 lower than in Denver. Meanwhile, rents are actually falling year over year in many metro areas, including San Francisco (down 14.3 percent), Seattle (down 9.8 percent) and Washington, D.C. (down 7.8 percent).

If the pandemic suppressed rents in the metro area last year, those days are gone. Given the new record average house sale price in Denver, which just topped $700,000 for the first time ever, those looking for housing in these parts are getting the financial squeeze from every angle imaginable. And if Denver rent keeps going up 2.4 percent every month until June 2022, the situation will only get worse.
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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