L.A. Paid More for Rent Than Residents Did in Almost Any Other U.S. City

L.A. Paid More for Rent Than Residents Did in Almost Any Other U.S. City
Michael Locke/L.A. Weekly Flickr pool

Despite the recovering economy and plunging gas prices, it was a rough year for your wallet if you lived in L.A.

We have just about the worst housing crisis in the nation. A year-end report released this morning by the folks at real estate website Zillow pretty much proves it, saying that Angelenos paid more for rent in 2014 than residents of any other American metropolis except one: New York.

The figure that we spent on putting roofs over our heads is staggering, too:

$34.2 billion.

You read that right. (If you ever start to feel sorry for landlords because of rent control and other lefty regulations they have to endure in this town, go back and look that number up).

That figure represents a $1.7 billion (5.3 percent) increase over what renters paid for apartments and homes in 2013 in L.A: $32.5 billion, the site says.

Still, we were beat by New Yorkers, who paid $50 billion for rent in 2014, Zillow says. We're a little wary about whether we're comparing apples to apples here, though. Zillow describes New York market as including northern New Jersey.

L.A. County alone, not including Orange County, the Inland Empire, Ventura County, and more, covers about 4,000 square miles of space and includes more than 10 million residents.

On this list, Riverside is broken out separately. Residents there spent $6.2 billion on rent this year, says Zillow.

San Francisco, where average rents are usually higher than L.A.'s, ranked third on this list. Residents there paid $14.6 billion. Chicagoans paid $14.3 billion. And Washington, D.C. residents paid $13.4 billion, according to the site.

L.A. Paid More for Rent Than Residents Did in Almost Any Other U.S. City

The housing crunch struck across the United States in 2014, Zillow says:

Americans shelled out $20.6 billion more in rent in 2014 compared to 2013. Cumulatively, U.S. renters paid $441 billion in rent in 2014 compared to $420 billion last year, an increase of nearly five percent (4.9 percent).

Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries explained why this is happening:

Over the past fourteen years, rents have grown at twice the pace of income due to weak income growth, burgeoning rental demand, and insufficient growth in the supply of rental housing. This has created real opportunities for rental housing owners and investors, but has also been a bitter pill to swallow for tenants, particularly those on an entry-level salary and those would-be buyers struggling to save for a down payment on a home of their own.

And he predicted it will happen again next year:

Next year, we expect rents to rise even faster than home values, meaning that another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s probable.

Residents of Birmingham, Alabama, by the way, paid the least for rent, says the site: $1 billion. But to get that kind of cheap rent—yes, we've said this cliche before—you'd actually have to live there.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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