The reasons why some Virginians are seeing steep rent increases

Posted at 10:42 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 12:35:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some people across Virginia have been seeing a sharp increase in rent prices during the pandemic.

In the summer of 2020, Paris Lape and her husband moved from Richmond to Lynchburg as college graduates. The couple rented an apartment at Abbington Hills Apartments and Townhomes off of Forest Hill Avenue.

The two were paying $949 a month for a one-bedroom, one bathroom, 750 square foot apartment.

About 12 months into their lease, the couple was notified that their rent would be going up from $949 to more than $1,300, an increase of roughly 40%.

They found themselves unable to afford their apartment.

"We looked at that number. And we were like, well, I guess we're definitely moving out," Lape said.

This problem isn't unique to Richmond.

A graduate student in Charlottesville said his rent is set to jump more than 30%, from around $1,250 to just under $1,700.

"I got my notice for rental renewal over the weekend and it was way higher than I was ever expecting," the student said.

There's nothing on the books in Virginia limiting rent increases a landlord can impose without proper notice.

Experts say typical annual increases are between three and 10%. There are many factors as to why some are seeing steep increases right now and almost all are tied to the pandemic.

Virginia Apartment Management Association CEO Patrick McCloud cites low vacancy, inflation, low supply and rental assistance programs.

"When subsidies start ending and start slowing down, we are going to see a little more churn in the rental housing market," McCloud said.

He also said remote work has led to people from big cities moving to places like Richmond while they are still earning big city salaries. While their dollar goes much farther in smaller cities, yours may not.

Despite this, there is some good news.

"One of the things we have to remember is that during the pandemic, development slowed down, people stopped moving, all these things put pressure on prices. So as more units get delivered, you will see prices start to flatten off," McCloud said.

McCloud said that renters shouldn't wait until the last minute to negotiate with management or look for a new place to live.