Boston’s apartment rental market has been slow to become active so far in 2022. After 2 years of COVID-induced market disruption, it looks like many renters are opting to sit out 2022. Landlords have reported that they’ve seen a record number of renters resigning leases instead of reentering the September 1 leasing rush.
Based on current Boston rental market data, the city began the year with record low apartment inventory in terms of both vacancy rate and availability rate, following a year when both supply metrics reached all-time highs. This fluctuation was a direct result of the adoption of remote learning and remote work policies. This severely diminished rental demand in downtown neighborhoods and student enclaves in Boston. As a result of the supply glut, rent prices dropped in Boston last year for the first time in over a decade.
Rent prices have begun to rise again since supply numbers have contracted, and it appears that average rent prices for Boston apartments will surpass its previous all-time high set before the pandemic in 2022. Perhaps this has pushed many renters to stay put this year who would have otherwise reentered the rental market for the summer leasing season, especially if they feel like they got a deal during last year’s rental season. Or perhaps it’s a result of COVID-fatigue, where uncertainty towards the future is prompting many to hold off entering the market.
Likely it’s a function of both of these factors that’s causing the market to stall out of the gate in 2022. In the past few weeks, we have begun to see the availability rate spike closer to pre-pandemic levels, but vacancies remain at historic lows. The city will have to get back to work this year with stalled development projects that are much needed to add to the city’s rental inventory. The lack of affordable housing in Boston is putting a ton of pressure on the current rental supply, and as a result, pushing prices even higher for the average renter.