The apartment search continues to ease for prospective tenants in Davis with an increase in the vacancy rate and a slowing of the average increase in rental rates, according to a fall survey by UC Davis.
The apartment vacancy rate, now at 3.3 percent, almost doubled from last year's 1.7 percent. And the average rental-rate increase was 3.75 percent, down from last year's 7.2 percent rise.
In the 29th annual survey, the average monthly rent for unfurnished two-bedroom apartments, which account for almost 45 percent of the apartment units in the survey, rose 3.58 percent, from $1,032 to $1,069.
The annual vacancy and rental-rate survey, conducted by Student Housing at UC Davis, provides the campus and the City of Davis with information for future planning.
"The survey brought some good news for students looking for some choice in apartment living," said Bob Smiggen, director of Student Housing. "However, UC Davis must remain diligent in our planning efforts to accommodate our students."
Economists and planners consider a vacancy rate of 5 percent to be the ideal balance between the interests of landlord and tenant, the report said.
Student Housing surveyed 189 apartment complexes with five or more rental units in October and November; 182 complexes responded. Out of a total of 8,849 units reported, 296 were vacant. The seven complexes that did not respond to the survey have a total of approximately 91 units.
Among 12 types of rental units included in the survey, the highest average monthly rent increase was 17.48 percent for five unfurnished six-bedroom apartments (from $2,145 to $2,520). All other increases ranged from 2.78 percent for unfurnished three-bedroom apartments (from $1,548 to $1,591) to 9.59 percent for furnished studios (from $615 to $674).
The only type for which the rent decreased was a furnished four-bedroom unit. The rent for the one unit decreased 11.06 percent, from $2,080 to $1,850.
The overall average increase in the rental rate is calculated by considering the percentage change for each type of rental unit and the proportion of each type of rental unit among all rental stock.
The survey excludes those apartments that require an income eligibility test to qualify low-income residents for reduced rent, because students typically are not eligible for these units.
Enrollment and UC Davis housing
UC Davis has a total of 30,065 undergraduate, graduate and professional students this fall quarter, a decrease of 164 or 0.5 percent from the previous fall. On the main campus in Davis, the student population for fall quarter is 27,543, and it is expected to average 26,390 over the three quarters of the academic year.
In addition to about 4,252 freshmen in campus housing, 1,123 other students live in student housing facilities, privately owned projects or family housing at UC Davis.
The campus most recently added residence space in September 2003 when it opened three new residence halls to accommodate about 380 first-year students.
Construction is currently under way on residence halls for about 400 students and an expansion of the dining commons in the Tercero area on campus. Both projects are scheduled for completion next fall.
Help for the housing search
To help students in their search for housing for the next academic year, student housing offers workshops in the residence halls beginning in late January. The sessions offer information on the local rental scene, provide search tips and address topics from budgeting to leases.
The Associated Students of UC Davis hosts an annual Housing Day, slated this year for Feb. 15, where students can meet with representatives from local apartment complexes and gather information and tips for renting.