Chicago Rental Season 2022: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Chicago landlords divide the year into two periods: winter and rental season. Spring is just around the corner, so that means both landlords and tenants are making moves. If you’re in the apartment rental business, here’s what to expect for the busiest months of the year — and how to prepare for success. 

Will rent prices grow as rapidly as they did last year? 

National apartment rent has grown as much as 17 percent nationwide, according to some national sources. Chicago was spared such growth, with the majority of it taking place last spring and summer. Most analysts estimate that apartment rents will not rise as much as in 2021, but they will likely continue to outpace pre-pandemic norms during the warmer months. The median apartment rent in the popular Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago is $1,650 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,500 for a two-bedroom apartment. Of course, prices vary significantly by neighborhood and apartment type, so it is critical to look at a source that provides hyper-local stats.

What’s causing the continued growth in rental prices? 

There are many factors. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS), a large portion of would-be renters was unable to enter the rental market during the early part of the pandemic. Instead, many young adults moved out of the city and into their parents’ homes. Once the economy opened up, the renters entered or returned to the market with rising demand and prices. We will continue to see such trends in the coming season. 
JCHS also reported that home prices are rising even faster than rent. Renters looking to own have been pushed out of the home-buying market due to stiff competition and a lack of affordability. Would-be homeowners have remained in the renter population, adding even more pressure. 

Should Chicago landlords raise the rent for the upcoming season? 

Before raising the rent on your apartment, look closely at comparable units to fairly price your property. Keep in mind that apartments priced above their perceived market value usually remain vacant longer, sometimes offsetting the incremental revenue expected by the landlord. The neighborhood pages on Domu are an excellent resource for this type of analysis. There, you will find a range of rental prices for places that are currently active. Regularly comparing rent prices is a good practice for Chicago landlords who want to remain competitive in today’s market. Another important factor to keep in mind is that as rent rises, apartment hunters will look for concessions such as free rent, incentives, and waived fees to offset the higher costs. 

Expect movement — Chicago renters want a change of scenery.  

Two years ago, we entered the pandemic. Staying home, working from home, and eating at home can get old if you’ve been in the same 900 square feet for 730 days or more. There’s also something about spring and summer that makes Chicagoans want to shed layers and start fresh. Renters who agree will be on the move very soon, if not already.  
After rising in the spring and summer of last year, vacancy rates for rental properties plunged to 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s the lowest it’s been since 1984. Renters moved around during the summer, and by the end of the season, they settled down — filling units at a remarkable percentage. We should see the same kind of movement during the 2022 rental season.   
Landlords will likely have an advantage with a competitive market for renters. Vacancy rates will rise in the next few months, however, giving renters more options. Check out our guide to attract more renters to your listing as the season gets into full swing.  

Fetch more renters by going pet-friendly.  

Searches for pet-friendly apartments on Domu are up 33 percent year-over-year. During the pandemic, more than 23 million American households adopted a pet, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That’s nearly one in five homes nationwide. More and more renters have become pet owners, so it only makes sense to welcome cats, dogs, and other companion animals.  
Allowing pets offers many benefits to landlords. Charging a pet fee is a common way to earn extra money for a property. Worried about wear and tear? A pet deposit is another option. Chicago landlords can also cast a wider net for potential renters by welcoming pets. Landlords who don’t accept Fido will miss out on a huge chunk of potential tenants.  

Take your listing to the next level (and get featured on Domu’s social media). 

Social media is one way to attract renters and get more leads. Domu curates a selection of the best apartment listings – from studios to luxury penthouses for rent – every day on social media. How can your apartment get a shoutout? Upload beautiful photos to your listing. Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms are visual mediums, so attractive shots are essential. Include great images in your listing, and you’re sure to get featured with a direct link to your page. Apartments for rent that have appeared on Domu’s social media get more traffic, so what are you waiting for? Check us out on Instagram @domuchicago for inspiration!