Boston’s apartment rental market looks much different this September than it has in recent years. Following a rental season where the city recorded some of the lowest supply figures on record, Boston’s vacancy rate currently sits at .46%, a record low for September. That figure is down -76.65% year-over-year and only marks a +64% increase since last month.
Typically on 9/1 in Boston, the vacancy rate surges as previous tenants vacate their leases. Nearly half of leases for Boston apartments begin on 9/1 due to the unusually large student population. In 2019 and 2020, the monthly-over-month vacancy rates jumped by +298.25% and +329.85% respectively in the first week of September, which was considered normal.
Now in the last two years, Boston’s vacancy rate went up by much lower margins. Last September, the month-over-month vacancy rate jumped by a much smaller +55.97%. In the first week of this month, that month-over-month increase was even smaller at +47.06%. Last year could easily be attributed to the fact that Boston’s rental market was recovering from the rental supply calamity of the pandemic. But this year’s smaller vacancy jump may prove that this trend is here to stay.
This departure from historical trends was likely caused by renters deciding to renew their leases this year instead of looking for an apartment in what was the scarcest market on record. It could also partially be attributed to Boston’s unprecedented 9% vacancy rate in September 2020, which may have reduced the overall percentage of leases falling on 9/1.
Regardless of the reason, current supply and rent price figures suggest that we’re in a supply crisis in Boston’s rental market. Rent prices have continued to push to new all-time-highs in Boston throughout the year as supply figures have trended lower and lower. With interest rates on the rise and more would-be-buyers getting pushed towards renting, the city will have to prioritize increasing rental inventory.