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A shortage of rental units in the Salt Lake Valley adds to the rising costs of renting

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jul 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-14 00:21:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Prospective renters in the Salt Lake valley say it's becoming cut-throat just to find a place to live, because of what experts are calling a serious shortage of rental housing in the area.

Whether scouring internet sites, or taking the traditional approach and cruising the city for "For Rent" signs, finding a place to lease can be a headache.

"It's been stressful," said Teal Livai, who says she's been actively looking for a new place to live with her husband for two to three months.

In the current market, that stress quickly turns into frustration.

"I've been finding high prices," Livai said, and said that's even the case for small studio apartments in less-than-desirable locations.

Chloe Veysey described similar outcomes for the one month she and her boyfriend have been searching.

"I'm not finding too much, in all honesty," she said.

And if they do find something, it's snatched up sooner than they can fill out an application for it.

"You have to act on it super fast," Veysey said. "Or else it'll be gone in a couple hours."

She isn't exaggerating, according to the people who put these places up for rent.

Several property management companies told Fox 13 the rental market is tough right now.

"We're seeing a serious shortage," Miller and Company Property Management leasing agent Mike Shipler said.

He said properties they put on the market will see applications filter in within a couple hours of the listing.

People who fill out rental applications, he indicated, often tell him they've been searching for a while, with no luck.

"They do tell us, 'Boy this is really a rough market,'" he said.

Of the 300 rentals Miller and Company currently manages, he said two are available right now -- meaning their vacancy rate is just over a half of a percent.

The low vacancy rate drives up prices, and Shipler says they're seeing an increase of anywhere from $100 to $150, or even $200 a month.

One property that recently became available jumped from $705 a month, to $995 a month, he said.

"The people who made applications are pleased to get it," he said.

Shipler said the valley simply needs more housing. Even with new construction happening on various complexes across the valley, he said the market won't loosen up any time soon.

"It would take a massive inventory increase," he said.

Until an increase helps the supply catch up, multiple people will continue vying for each property that comes on the market.

Shipler said one of the two properties available currently has seven applications waiting for it.

Another they just leased had 20 applications flood in.

Livai described going through that game, of calling on a property only to find others have already jumped on it.

"They've said, 'We have a list of people who have already inquired about this,'" she said. Livai said the company usually promises to call back if the other applications fall through, but she never hears from them again.

She and Veysey will continue their searches, though for Livai, time is running out. She now only has a few weeks left to secure a new place.

"We need to find something," she said. "Quickly."