Annual survey says: Rents have increased 40% statewide over last 5 years

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BEDFORD, NH – Someone renting a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire would have to earn $70,600 annually to afford the 2023 monthly median rent of $1,764, which includes utilities.

That’s according to the 2023 NH Residential Rental Cost Survey released Wednesday by New Hampshire Housing.  The estimated 2023 median renters’ household income, however, doesn’t come close to $70,600. [Click the link to view lots of data graphs and charts.]

For instance, in Hillsborough County, renter households have a median income of $55,538 enabling them to afford an apartment that costs $1,388 a month.  Only 6 percent of all rental units in the county are priced at that amount. 

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In Carroll County, the median rental household income is $45,210, meaning $787 a month is what that family could afford.  There are zero apartments renting for that amount in Carroll County.

From 2018-23, rents statewide increased by 40 percent; the median rent for a two-bedroom in 2018 was $1,296 a month.  Grafton County saw the highest jump over that five-year period with rents skyrocketing by 82 percent.

Hillsborough County, with the state’s two largest cities, saw rents climb 47 percent in that same time period.

“The survey reflects a housing market that remains exceedingly tight, with a high demand for rental units, a low vacancy rate, and ongoing pressure on the affordability of both for-rent and for-sale homes,” wrote Rob Dapice, NH Housing Executive Director/CEO.

The strong demand and tight inventory are challenging the state’s ability to meet housing needs, according to the report. 

NH Housing has conducted an annual survey of market-rate apartments for more than 40 years, providing a comprehensive view of the Granite State’s rental market.     

For the 2023 survey, owners of 17,116 market-rate (unsubsidized) rental housing units, or 11% of all units statewide, responded.  

The survey found that rent for a two-bedroom unit is up 11.4 percent over last year with rents statewide continuing a steady 10-year climb.  Rents are hiked as leases expire or rental properties are sold, according to the survey.

Average monthly utility costs also increased because of large hikes in energy prices, contributing to the 11.4 percent rent increase.

The vacancy rate statewide is at 0.8 percent for all rentals making it difficult to find an affordable apartment. (A vacancy rate of 5% is considered a balanced market for tenants and landlords.) 

The report says the challenges of the state’s rental market are related to the state’s limited inventory of for-sale homes, particularly those affordable for most first-time homebuyers. That, coupled with interest rates in the 6 – 7% range, has kept many households as renters, contributing to low rental vacancy levels because people are unable to achieve homeownership. 

Nationally and in New Hampshire, the supply of low-cost rentals continues to decline, according to The State of the Nation’s Housing 2023, issued by The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. 

Based on the state’s estimated population growth, a total of 23,670 housing units is needed today to meet New Hampshire’s current housing shortage, according to the NH Statewide Housing Needs Assessment issued earlier this year. It also reported that by 2040, the state will need nearly 90,000 units more than we have today.





About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.