Fresno apartment rents rose over the past year. Here’s how much more it costs now

Market-rate rents in Fresno’s large apartment complexes climbed by more than 6 percent over the past 12 months, but prices remain some of the lowest among California cities in the latest monthly report by RentCafe.com.

The average rent price reported in the Fresno market was $1,086 per month for August 2019, the sixth lowest price among 79 cities included in RentCafe’s analysis.

The central and southern San Joaquin Valley – Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, Tulare and Kern counties – are home to nine cities with the lowest rents in the entire state.

A year ago, the average apartment rent in Fresno was calculated at $1,023 per month.

The RentCafe data averages the rent prices of all market-rate apartments in a city in buildings or complexes with at least 50 units. It does not count subsidized apartments for low-income residents or smaller apartment complexes of less than 50 units. The analysis also makes no distinction on the square footage or number of bedrooms in apartment units.

The most expensive rents in California remain in the San Francisco Bay Area, where each of the six priciest rental markets are located. In San Francisco, the average apartment rent topped $3,700 in August, compared to about $3,580 a year earlier.

Madera, a few miles north of Fresno, came in with the lowest average rents among the cities in the RentCafe analysis, joining the Kings County city of Lemoore as the only two California communities in which the average rents were lower than $1,000 per month in August.

The fastest rising rents in the state were also concentrated in northern and southern California. In Oakland, the average rent climbed from just under $2,680 in August 2018 to more than $2,920 last month – an increase of about 9.2 percent. Roseville, not far from Sacramento, showed an increase of 9 percent, to about $1,85 per month.

Other cities with year-over-year increases of 8 percent or more were Burbank, where the average rent of $2,399 was 8.7 percent more than a year ago, and Huntington Beach, where an annual jump of 8.1 percent drove monthly rents to an average of $2,180.

Affordable? It depends

Fresno’s average rent rose 6.2 percent, the 10th-highest year-over-year increase in the state.

While apartment rents in Fresno are among the lowest in the state, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone can afford them. Throughout Fresno County, almost 60 percent of renter households are “rent burdened,” or overpaying for rent under federal housing guidelines because they pay at least 30 percent of their gross income on housing-related costs such as rent and utilities. Among very-low-income households earning $20,000 a year or less, about 70 percent of rental households pay at least half of their income for rent and utilities.

The Fresno Housing Authority, a joint agency of the city of Fresno and Fresno County to drive affordable housing solutions, estimates that there is a shortfall of about 41,000 apartments or other housing units priced in a range that is attainable for low-income renter households.

The city of Fresno has 260 apartment complexes with 50 or more rental units that account for 35,094 individual apartments, according to a database released this week by the City Attorney’s Office under a California Public Records Act request from The Bee.

The city, under its Rental Housing Improvement Program established in 2017, requires the owners of all rental units in the city to register their properties in a database that provides a basis for periodic inspections and possible enforcement of code violations.

The city’s total rental inventory in the database amounts to more than 81,600 rental units in duplexes, triplexes, smaller apartment projects and condominiums, including nearly 24,000 single-family homes that are rented out by their owners.

The city collects the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of property owners and their management representatives, as well as the property address, assessor’s parcel number and total number of rental units on the property.

The City Attorney’s Office cited third-party privacy issues in withholding property owners’ names from The Bee, despite such information being publicly available through property tax records and other sources.

The city’ does not collect rental price data from property owners for its registry, and the data does not distinguish between subsidized or affordable housing projects and market-rate rental housing. For example, the apartment complex in Fresno’s database is the Senior Citizens Village in southeast Fresno, along Chestnut Avenue near Fresno Pacific University. There are 552 individual units in the complex, in which rents for qualifying seniors range from a low of $339 per month for a studio to $505 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, according to the property’s website.

Search Fresno’s rental inventory

Fresno’s rental housing registry, partially released to The Fresno Bee by the city of Fresno under a California Public Records Act request, includes nearly 28,000 properties with more than 81,600 individual rental units – apartments, condominiums and single-family homes throughout the city. The Bee has compiled the information into a database that is searchable (see below):

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Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.