New Hampshire Rental Market Feels Rise in Utility Costs

Bedford, NH – New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority today released the results of its annual survey of residential rental costs in the state. The survey results demonstrated that while New Hampshire’s gross rental costs are up slightly overall, those increases are primarily the result of rising utility costs.

The Authority’s 2008 Residential Rental Cost Survey reports on the “gross” rental costs of units in every county of the state. Gross rents include the contract rent – the rents paid to property owners – plus an allowance for tenant-paid utilities. Gross rents are used in the survey to standardize rental cost information. This year, the median priced two-bedroom unit, including utilities, statewide was 1.5 % higher than in 2007, or up to $1,044 from last year’s $1,029. The statewide increase in median gross rental cost is less than the national Consumer Price Index (CPI) shelter rate of 2.6 %.

While much of the change from county to county and city to city in the 2007 survey could be attributed to the extent to which areas were impacted by the conversion of apartments to condominiums and what type of rental housing was lost to the market as a result, this year’s survey appears to demonstrate that higher rents are tied to the increase in overall utility costs instead of any particular housing market factors.

The average utility cost for all rental units has increased 57% during the past five years, creating economic challenges for both tenants and property owners. Owners across the state are seeing less net contract rent on units where utilities are included; and median renter incomes, which have remained relatively flat over time, limit tenants’ ability to pay higher rents or afford the rising cost of utilities not included in their rent. Because tenants are strapped and their ability to pay has essentially capped rents, property owners are left to meet the expense of higher utility costs when they are included in the total rent.

The annual Residential Rental Cost Survey has been conducted each year since 1986. This year’s survey is the result of information gathered on nearly 30,000 rental units across the state. The most common type of rental housing within the state is a two-bedroom unit. New Hampshire Housing and other public and private organizations use the date collected through the survey to identify needs and establish priorities for housing programs. A complete copy of the survey can be found on the Authority’s Web site at www.nhhfa.org.

New Hampshire Housing is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation established by the state Legislature. The Authority operates a number of programs designed to assist-low and moderate-income person to obtain housing. Since its inception, New Hampshire Housing has helped more than 37,000 families purchase their own homes and has been instrumental in financing the creation of more than 14,000 multi-family housing units. More information about single family and multi-family housing programs offered by New Hampshire Housing may be found on the Authority’s Web site.

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