Growth of apartment construction, increased rents, mark Dutchess County’s 2020 rental housing survey

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POUGHKEEPSIE – More than 560 new apartments were constructed in Dutchess County in 2020, the highest number of rental units built in the 40-year history of the county’s annual rental housing survey. At the same time, market-rate apartment complexes saw a considerable increase in rents – from 4.5 percent to 7.5 percent – for all unit sizes.

The survey, conducted by the county’s Department of Planning and Development, also found the vacancy rate for market rate apartment complexes decreased from 1.5 percent to 0.9 percent, a 40 percent decrease from 2019 and the lowest vacancy rate recorded since the county began conducting the survey in 1980.

County officials said a vacancy rate closer to five percent is preferable and is an indication of a healthier rental market where renters have more options and mobility. They said low vacancy rates can negatively affect tenants.

The survey also found that rents for tax credit and inclusionary apartments showed a modest increase ranging from 1.1 to two percent for a one-, two- and three-bedroom unit. Officials noted the rent increases are more modest than market-rates since increases are set and regulated by government entities.

“Rising rents paired with a historically low vacancy rate illustrate the intense level of pressure on the local rental market,” said County Senior Planner Heather LaVarnway. “In theory, we shouldn’t have such a low vacancy rate at the same time that we have experienced a historically high level of rental unit construction. This clearly demonstrates the need for more housing options throughout Dutchess County.”