Survey: Davis Apartment Vacancy Rate Down, Rents Up

Leasing flags in front of an apartment complex
UC Davis commissions a survey on apartment vacancy and rental rates in Davis to help inform campus and community planning. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The apartment vacancy rate in the city of Davis has decreased and rents have increased since fall 2021, according to a survey report released today (Jan. 31).

The 0.5% blended vacancy rate — including apartments leased by the unit and by the bed — is lower than the 1.4% rate for fall 2021.

Rents for bed- and unit-leased apartments increased by a combined average of 10.4% over fall 2021.

The results are from the fall 2022 version of UC Davis’ apartment vacancy- and rental-rate survey, conducted since at least 1975 to provide the campus and surrounding communities with information to support planning.

The survey results follow five years in which UC Davis has made a net gain of nearly 5,000 new apartment and residence hall beds on campus.

“While the vacancy rate is lower than we hoped, we remain positive that our recent additions to student housing are having an impact,” said Michael Sheehan, associate vice chancellor for housing, dining and divisional operations in Student Affairs. “Lending to our optimism are the 1,500 new beds coming available this fall at the Orchard Park apartment community and plans for a new 400- to 600-bed residence hall.”

Sheehan added that the 2021 entering class was the largest in UC Davis’ history, and while many students chose to live their second year on campus at The Green at West Village, a larger number than expected sought housing in the community. In keeping with its enrollment targets for fall 2022, UC Davis enrolled fewer new undergraduates than in fall 2021.

Read a related story about how UC Davis is Meeting Our Housing Commitments.

Vacancies by unit type

According to the survey, 18 apartments, or 0.2%, of 7,403 leased by unit were vacant and available for lease, compared with 81, or 1.1%, vacant among 7,083 apartments in fall 2021.

The report noted that, contrary to recent trends, the average number of occupants in unit-leased apartments — including what is called a “double-up” when a bedroom is shared — decreased slightly.

“This may be driven by recent increases in available rental units in the Davis market, while it may also be influenced by other factors, such as the COVID pandemic and changing resident preferences,” the report stated.

The number of units leased by the bed rather than the unit as a whole account for 28.7% of the market-rate apartments in the survey. Among the 2,974 units leased by the bed, 75, or 0.8%, of their 9,040 beds were vacant. In fall 2021, 2.4% of 9,376 beds in this type of unit were vacant.

Rental rates

The combined average rental rate increased 10.4% from $2,420 per unit in fall 2021 to $2,671.

The report attributes the increase, in part, to catch up from what were modest rent increases during the worst of the pandemic.

The average monthly rent for unit-leased apartments of all sizes — from studios to four or more bedrooms — was up 9.4%, from $2,034 in fall 2021 to $2,226.

Two-bedroom apartments — representing 45.2% of those rented by unit — provide an example. On average, they were shared by 2.8 people and rented for $2,188, up 7.4% from fall 2021.

The average rate for a bed lease rose 16.8%, from $1,062 in fall 2021, to $1,241.

About the survey

A total of 119 apartment complexes and property management companies representing 11,006 rental units, or 4.4% more units than the previous year, responded to the survey, commissioned by UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services. The report’s calculations excluded units rented at below-market rates, so only the 10,337 market-rate units were included.

Student housing on campus

In fall 2022, UC Davis housed about 13,600 students and their family members, a lower number than last year because of the smaller size of the entering class.

With Orchard Park opening this coming fall for graduate students and family needs, the campus is on track to meet its 2023 target of having 15,000 student beds on campus under the terms of a 2018 memorandum of understanding with the city of Davis and Yolo County.

Since 2017, UC Davis has opened about 5,000 new apartment and residence hall beds through construction of the Tercero 4 complex, Yosemite Hall, The Green at West Village and Shasta Hall; and by doubling up beds in larger rooms at the Sol apartments in West Village. In about the same period, the percentage of students living on campus has increased from 29% in 2016-17 to 38% in 2021-22.

Student enrollment

In fall 2022, UC Davis enrolled a total of 40,772 students, a decrease of 0.9% from the previous fall’s 41,155. Within those numbers, the fall 2022 entering class of 9,194 new undergraduates was 12.3% smaller than the previous year’s 10,479.

While most students are associated with the campus in Davis, some participate in programs at locations outside of Davis, such as the Sacramento campus.

UC Davis measures its Davis-based enrollment as an average over the three regular academic quarters for its 2018 Long Range Development Plan, which has a projected capacity of 39,000 students for the Davis campus. Early estimates indicate enrollment will average about 37,000 for the 2022-23 academic year.

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Link to the report

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