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Getting Answers: rent prices skyrocketing

Rental prices have skyrocketed, posing a challenge for nearly every renter in the state.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 7:06 PM EDT
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CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Rental prices have skyrocketed, posing a challenge for nearly every renter in the state.

“I can’t afford to live here anymore and they refuse to acknowledge the things that need to be fixed in my apartment,” said Darlene Hurd of Chicopee.

Hurd invited Western Mass News into her one-bedroom apartment in Chicopee that she has lived in for the past two decades. It used to cost $850 a month. This month, the rent went up and she doesn’t know why.

“Then it went up to $975, which is more than my Social Security retirement check…They had given us seven days to decide if we wanted to stay or not,” Hurd added.

Hurd told us she asked her landlord why they increased the rent, but they never got back to her on what caused the sudden change. However, she is not the only person who has experienced an increase in rent prices.

According to rent.com, the national average cost of rent has gone up by 22 percent in the last year. Western Mass News spoke with senior managing editor of rent.com, Brian Carberry, to find out why rent prices have surged.

“Generally, anywhere that you’re looking rent prices are going to be on the increase…It’s a lot of supply and demand. Really, there are just so many people that are looking to rent an apartment right now or just really find a place to live,” Carberry explained.

Carberry told us that the housing market is the main driving force behind why rent is on the rise.

“People are being priced out of buying homes. They’re turning to rent and that’s just putting more people looking for an apartment, especially for younger people, millennials, older Gen z’s that are trying to find their first home really kind of hard to do, so right now, so they need to rent a little longer,” Carberry said.

More specifically, Carberry broke down the numbers in the town of Amherst, where he said has the largest rent increase in the western Massachusetts area from last year.

“In Amherst, we are seeing rent prices up for all unit types - studios, one bedroom, two bedrooms, and three-bedroom apartments. Studio apartments from what we have are the greatest increase, so about 30 percent from about this time last year,” Carberry noted.

Along with Amherst, since 2021, rent prices in Springfield have increased by 5.7 percent and the city of Chicopee has seen average rent costs increase by 11 percent.

“Regardless of if rent prices are going up five percent or 50 percent, it’s still more money that people are going to have to pay that they may not be prepared to or may not have budgeted for, so it’s something that is impacted a lot of people and they do need to be prepared for these rent price increases,” Carberry added.

We dug deeper into best tips for people who are struggling with higher rent. One local attorney, who specializes in tenant rights, told us there are federal and local programs available for those in need of assistance.

“You have HUD, you have HAT, you have Way Finders. All of those are in Springfield are taking applications and you come in with your notice to quit, you come in with your lease you explain how much you owe and why you owe the money, and they will help you to come up with those funds,” said Attorney Randy Milou.

Carberry said he did not expect such rent prices to be at the level and he does not see a change anytime soon.

“I do expect that rent prices are slowly going to trickle up at least for the foreseeable future and it’s all going to kind of correlate with what’s happening with the housing market. There definitely is a cause and effect there, so we are keeping an eye on it. I do think renters need to prepare for at least another year or hopefully not much longer,” Carberry said.