Washington D.C. has long been an expensive city to rent an apartment, but where within the city renting housing is most expensive has changed during the pandemic. In the past three years, the cost of renting an apartment in the District has increased overall by an average of 15.46 percent—but these increases are inconsistent across both apartment size and between the city’s eight wards.
The monthly rent of larger units increased at a faster rate than that of smaller units. Effective rent for two-bedroom apartments has increased by an average of 27.54 percent from 2019. By comparison, effective rent for studio apartments has increased by an average of 1.02 percent in the same time period. This means that rents are becoming more likely to economically segregate D.C. households with three or more people.
Ward 5 has seen the most significant rent growth in the last two years, and this is consistent across all apartment styles: Ward 5 has seen rent growth of 27.75 percent in studios, and 52.54 percent in two-bedroom apartments. This is closing Ward 5’s gap in average cost with some of the city’s more expensive wards for renters.
Ward 6 has also become relatively more expensive for the smallest units, which could be attributed to the more recent development in Navy Yard. Conversely, Ward 3 has seen no increase in effective rent across all apartment sizes, and in fact has seen a small decline.
If rent prices continue to increase, there could be significant financial impacts on the nearly 60 percent of the District’s households who rent.1 This trend could also affect the household makeup living in the city which has implications for the future economic and population growth of the city.
- Bailey, M., LaRose, E., & Schuetz, J. (2020, July 23). What will it cost to save Washington, D.C.’s renters from COVID-19 eviction? Brookings; Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-will-it-cost-to-save-washington-d-c-s-renters-from-covid-19-eviction/