Denver Two-Bedroom Median Rent Hits $2,000 Amid Eviction Confusion

Rent for apartments at the Sentral Union Station complex, 1770 Chestnut Place, range from $2,015 to $11,312.
Rent for apartments at the Sentral Union Station complex, 1770 Chestnut Place, range from $2,015 to $11,312. Google Maps
Confusion over protections for renters put into place because of the COVID-19 pandemic is on the rise — and so is rent in Denver. According to a new report, median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Mile High City is now $2,000, thanks to a nearly 5 percent increase in a single month.

This grim news comes from Zumper, whose latest report analyzes figures from July, the most recent month for which data is available. And the timing of the price spike is particularly unfortunate.

The national eviction moratorium imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially expired on July 31. But days later, on August 3, the CDC issued a new order "temporarily halting evictions in counties with heightened levels of community transmission in order to respond to recent, unexpected developments in the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rise of the Delta variant. It is intended to target specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions."

The latest moratorium, which extends to October 3, applies in parts of the country with substantial or high spread of COVID-19, defined by the agency as anywhere with a seven-day incidence rate above fifty per 100,000 residents. According to the COVID-19 dial dashboard maintained by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the entire Denver metro area meets this standard as of today, August 5, and so do the overwhelming majority of Colorado counties. But these figures are constantly in flux — and there's no telling whether the guidelines will remain in place, undergo tweaking or vanish entirely two months from now.

In the meantime, median one-bedroom rent prices for most cities along Colorado's Front Range are higher than they were last year at this time in nine of the eleven metro communities analyzed by Zumper. Most of the increases are in the single digits, including Denver's, but Lakewood and Westminster are exceptions, with hikes of 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The only places with year-over-year declines are Boulder and Englewood.

Here are the details:
A more detailed look at rents in the eleven communities reveals that one-bedroom rent in Westminster actually declined by 1.2 percent from June to July — but the community still lands at the top of the one-bedroom cost roster.

Catching up fast is Denver, where one-bedroom prices climbed 1.4 percent from the previous month, to $1,460, and two-bedroom median costs hit $2,000 — the hightest in the roundup. That's a 4.7 percent boost from June and 5.3 percent more than in July 2020.

Of the other cities, only Englewood and Greeley have median one-bedroom costs below $1,000. Median prices were static or higher in eight of the eleven cities for both apartment types.

Continue for the specifics:

Paying these prices won't be easy for renters in metro Denver — and the federal safety net may not be much help.
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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