As anyone who lives in Missoula knows, the past year has been a nightmare for renters.

With a vacancy rate hovering between one and two percent, rent increases in Missoula and in all of Montana are garnering national attention.

We spoke to Christian Worstell with Help Advisors, a website that provides help for consumers in a variety of areas from housing to medicine.

Worstell explained where his statistics came from for this rental report.

“We examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau,” said Worstell. “They do a household pulse survey. We collected data from July 27 through August 8, which is week 48 of their survey data. We began by looking at the states where residents have experienced a rent increase of at least $250 per month over the last year. And we found that Montana ranked third in that regard in that 27 percent of all renters in Montana have seen their rent go up by at least $250 per month over the last year.”

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Worstell said the actual rental amount has also increased dramatically in Montana.

“We then looked at the states where the average monthly rent is at least $1,500, and once again Montana ranked pretty high for that,” he said. “They ranked 11th, meaning 39 percent of renters in Montana are now paying at least $1,500 per month in rent.”

One reason why Montana’s rental rates are up so rapidly is that the state has no rent control to protect consumers.

“Montana does not have any statewide rent control or really any rent control at all for that matter, which opened the door for rent to increase for other reasons,” he said. “You know, during COVID we saw the Great Relocation where people started working from home and they were able to continue working for their company, but relocate and work remotely and you saw a lot of people leave bigger cities and metro areas and move out into the country, keep their same job and work from home.”

Hand in hand with increasing rental costs is a rapidly decreasing vacancy rate.

“We actually did another previous survey linked to it into this piece,” he said. “We looked at the rental vacancy by state and Montana ranked pretty high for that as well. They ranked eighth. Only 3.6 percent of all rental units were unoccupied and available as of the second quarter of this year. So, if you're looking to move to Montana and rent or you're currently living in Montana and looking to find a new place to rent, 97 percent of all places are already booked up.”

The Missoula Organization of Realtors recently released its annual report on housing sales and rentals in the area.

Read here about how the Missoula housing market is overvalued.

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