A for rent sign graces a window of a building in Portland on Friday, May 6, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett

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More than half of Maine’s renters saw their monthly rent rise anywhere from less than $100 per month to more than $500 per month over the past 12 months, a survey released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau found.

The largest group, 13 percent of the total surveyed, saw their rent rise from $100 to $249 per month, according to the bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey, which is collecting data from June 1 through Aug. 8.

Almost 37 percent saw no rent change and less than 1 percent experienced a rent decrease. Nationally, 41 percent had no rent change and about 2 percent saw a rent decrease.

About 194,300 renters responded to the survey, with 12,800 not saying whether their rent changed.

The survey, which takes 20 minutes to complete online, studies how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting households across the country from a social and economic perspective. It showed that the lowest household income bracket saw more rent increases, but the rate hike is lower than that for higher income households.

Of the households that took the survey, almost 80 percent had no children, and of those, 35 percent saw no rent change over the past year.

Almost 46 percent of households had two people, followed by 27 percent with one person. About 12.5 percent of homes had three people and 12.8 percent had four inhabitants.

Some 54 percent of respondents were not employed in the past seven days, and 38 percent experienced no rent change in the past year.

Those with lower household incomes faced more rent increases. Almost one-third of respondents had a household income of less than $25,000, but upwards of 75 percent had a rent increase, but most saw less than a $100 per month rise.

About half of those making $100,000 to $149,999 saw a rent increase, with most experiencing up to a $249 per month rise.

About 27 percent of respondents said they had to use money from savings or selling assets, including from retirement accounts, to meet their spending needs in the last seven days. Another 11 percent borrowed from friends or family.

A recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that about 22 percent of renters making less than $25,000 were behind on their rent compared with only 4 percent of those making $100,000 or more. More than 41 percent of all renters were cost-burdened, with almost 20 percent severely cost-burdened.

The Harvard study found that apartment rents in professionally managed properties throughout the US rose by 12 percent in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier.

Those for single-family homes were up 14 percent in March compared with the year before, marking the 12th consecutive month of record-high growth.

The rents for single-family homes rose faster than those for apartments, pushed up by increasing demand for more living space among households able to work remotely, the study said.

As with home sales prices, rents are continuing to increase because of severe supply constraints.

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...