Renters struggle to afford expensive Charlotte housing market

In the Charlotte market, rents for all unit types are currently asking about $1,544 a month, according to real estate research firm CoStar.

In the Charlotte market, rents for all unit types are currently asking about $1,544 a month, according to real estate research firm CoStar.

[email protected]


Charlotte single mom Rochelle Vassar is looking to buy a small single-family home or townhouse so they can really put down roots. But in this market, that’s no easy feat. As the market gets hotter and homeownership slips from the hands of many, renting in the Charlotte area has become more difficult than ever. This special report looks at what it takes to buy a home in Charlotte as well as market trends, as well as tips for starting your real estate search.

Vivian Sipe is a proud Charlotte native. She grew up here and came back as soon as she graduated from college.

But she no longer lives in the city. Even with a roommate, she couldn’t afford it.

Sipe, 30, decided last year to move to a new development in Concord. Her current unit, which she can afford with only one roommate, is better for her budget. However, when she renewed her lease this year, she learned her rent would go up.

Sipe eventually quit the job she loved and started a high-paying position to help her cope with rising rents.

“I’m a little worried about having to pay extra every month when I don’t have any extra money to spend,” Sipe said.

Renters make up less than half of all Charlotte-area households. But as the market gets hotter and homeownership slips from the hands of many, renting in the Charlotte area has become more difficult than ever. People who have lived in the city for years are finding that their money is not as high as it used to be.

According to from Real estate research firm CoStar. This data reflects current market prices offered to new tenants in multifamily dwellings with five or more units. This is an increase of 15.8% compared to the same period last year. Nationwide, asking rents have risen about 10.6 per cent since this time last year, according to CoStar.

‘really shady’

Aoife Kavanagh and Jess Hudson have been renting in the Wesley Heights area since 2020. They hoped to buy a home this year but knew it would be difficult to find one they could afford, so they decided to renew their lease.

Despite multiple attempts to get to their rental office, they did not receive a renewal until two days before the end of the current lease — at which point they were told the monthly rent would increase by about $200. If they choose to rent monthly, they’ll have to pay another $300 on top of that, which would bring their rent closer to $2,400, to buy a small one-bedroom apartment.

Kavanagh and Hudson felt they had no choice but to embrace growth. Their lease states that they must give 60 days’ notice before moving out of the unit.

“We can afford it,” Hudson said. “But the moral part of it, I mean, it’s really dubious.”

North Carolina is generally considered a landlord-friendly state.the state has a Ban rent controlso there is no limit to how much a private landlord can increase rent when your lease ends.

There’s also no state law that requires a certain amount of notice before rent increases, said O’Shauna M. Hunter, a Charlotte-based attorney with the North Carolina Department of Legal Aid. You should check your rental agreement, though, as it may state otherwise.

a growing problem

Charlotte has made a special effort to provide adequate affordable housing for low-income residents.this $219 million invested Demand for affordable housing projects has barely waned over the past two decades. Now, even those who once could afford to live here are overvalued.

Rent is generally considered “affordable” as long as it doesn’t exceed 30% of your gross monthly income. Applying the rule, someone living in the Charlotte Market would have to earn an annual salary of $61,760 to reasonably afford a monthly rent of $1,544.

According to the latest County-level datanearly half of renters in Mecklenburg County are cost burdened, meaning their monthly housing costs exceed the 30 percent threshold.

That was 2019, before the pandemic, and the problem was only getting worse.

“From the leases we’ve seen, from the renewal letters we’ve seen, from the complaints we’ve seen showing rental rates, I would say this problem is only going to increase for our community,” Hunter said.

It all comes back to the crux of Charlotte’s housing crisis: limited housing supply. There are not enough units to accommodate the existing population, let alone the rapidly growing one. As long as demand for housing exceeds supply, it will still be very expensive for many people.

“The data shows that about 100 people are coming into the area every day. It’s clear that this creates a huge demand for housing.” Childress Klein Real Estate Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said.

Charlotte doesn’t just need more housing — it needs more housing, and fast. Unfortunately, that turns out to be easier said than done.this 2040 Comprehensive Plan Included a provision allowing for higher-density housing to be built citywide, but it severely divided council members and passed by a narrow margin.New developments to help increase housing supply have received Residents strongly oppose who complained that it threatened the identity of their neighbors. Granted, Charlotte isn’t going to fix the housing problem, but it’s certainly a great start.

“The only way to solve these kinds of problems is to increase supply,” Chu said. “So, allow builders to build or allow developers to develop more rental housing.”

This story was originally published May 22, 2022 at 6 am.

Paige Masten's profile picture

Paige Masten is an opinion writer for Charlotte Observer and McClatchy’s North Carolina Opinion Team, covering issues affecting the city and state. She grew up in Raleigh and is graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.