How to Find Affordable Housing in Denver’s Hot Rental Market: A Guide to Income-Restricted Housing

September 19, 2022

As housing prices cool down in Denver, renter activity is heating up to levels before the pandemic. The Mile High’s City demand for affordable rental units is surpassing availability.

In Denver’s competitive rental market, how do you find an affordable rental that has essential amenities and is a reasonable distance from work?

When starting your search for a home in Denver, it’s important to know your income to determine your housing options and resources. In some cases, you can receive housing assistance if you meet the application requirements.

Here, we provide tips on how you can find an apartment in one of the best places in America to live. Enjoy the Denver, CO, lifestyle, food, outdoor activities, and natural scenery on a budget.

Metro Denver Rent Prices Reach Record Highs

Denver’s housing market conditions are high in demand for apartments but low in vacancy rates. Although the Denver housing market is tapering off, many people must resort to renting because they can’t afford a home.

What’s the state of Denver’s rental market?

In Realtor’s June 2022 rental report, the median listed rent price was $1,876 in the 50 largest US metro areas. Throughout the country, rent increased by 14.1% from the same time last year. However, this year-to-date growth rate was the lowest in 2022.

Despite the high cost of renting, renting is the most affordable option compared to buying a home in 38 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

In the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area, the overall median rent was $2,032 ($1,666 for a studio; $1,900 for a 1-bedroom) in June 2022, a 10.2% increase from the previous year. Despite the high rental costs, finding affordable housing near Denver is possible.

How to Navigate Denver’s Income-Restricted Housing Market

State and local governments have taken steps to address housing troubles, but these measures are still insufficient to keep up with demand. Income-restricted housing demand remains high.

What is income-restricted housing? It’s essentially housing reserved for renters who make under the specified income range. Rental properties can be owned by private owners receiving government subsidies or the city.

Here, we provide a list of affordable housing resources where you can find income-restricted houses for rent. Look over the application requirements and income qualifications and sign up for the lists as soon as possible.

How to Find Affordable Housing in the Denver Rental Market

Finding a cheap apartment in Denver can seem like an impossible task. Don’t give up just yet. Here are a few helpful tips to help you score a great deal on an affordable apartment in Denver.

Research the Denver Housing Market

We’ve provided a snapshot of Denver’s median apartment prices, but you’ll have to do a detailed search on Denver apartment prices and nearby neighborhoods. You may be able to find lower prices in locations with higher vacancy rates.

Time Your Apartment Search

Knowing the right time to sign a lease on an apartment can help you save money. Generally, it’s recommended to start renting during the winter months. During this time, apartment rent is usually lower, and landlords may provide move-in specials in December and January.

Sign a Long-Term Lease

If available, sign up for a long-term lease that can provide lower prices than short-term leases. Long-term leases offer greater stability for landlords since they don’t need to search for tenants or prepare an apartment for rent.

Budget and Prioritize

It’s time to be clear and honest with your income, spending habits, and rental budget. Pay attention to all the costs associated with rent and how much some amenities or lack of them affect the overall cost.

For instance, you may forgo some unessential amenities to find an apartment that you can afford. On the other hand, some amenities such as an in-unit laundry, gym, pool, or other amenities may be worth the rent’s cost.

Rent with a Roommate

Whether you want to live closer to the city or cannot afford an apartment on your own, renting with a roommate can significantly save you on rent and keep you close to friends and family or meet new friends.

Renting with a roommate, however, can be fraught with many challenges unless you take precautions before you sign the lease. Consider how you plan to split the rent, who pays utilities, lifestyle habits, and other house rules to keep a happy home.

Prioritize Amenities

In an ideal world, you’d find an apartment within your budget with all the amenities. To find a rental within your budget, pare down your amenities list to the most essential, such as a renovated bathroom and kitchen, which will increase your quality of living over others, such as a pool or gym.

Rent Middle-Floor Apartments

Top floors are desirable for better views and limited noise since there isn’t a tenant above you. Bottom floors are preferable for families with kids, tenants with mobility issues, and senior tenants. Landlords may offer middle-floor units at a lower price.

Explore Denver Suburbs

Denver, like any metropolis, has high rental costs, but you may be able to find a unit at a cheaper cost by widening your search outside the city. If the added travel costs and time to work make sense for you, it could be a good option for long-term living.

Expanding your rental search outside of Denver can also yield larger apartment sizes for an affordable price. In some cases, renting a detached single-family home or townhouse and splitting the cost with roommates can be the better choice.

Affordable Denver Suburbs (as of July 2022):

  • Derby, CO
  • Aurora, CO
  • Northglenn, CO
  • Thornton, CO
  • Ken Caryl, CO
  • Sheridan, CO
  • Commerce City, CO
  • Lakewood, CO
  • Brighton, CO
  • Westminster, CO

Consider Sublets

Sublets, also called subleases, are leases provided by a tenant with landowners’ permission, although they aren’t very common. Sublet apartments may be under market value when renting from long-term tenants, although you must vacate when the lease ends.

Find Affordable Denver Housing with Koelbel

Affordable Housing came onto our radar in 2010. We wanted to help address the housing challenges in our community and tapped into low-income tax credits to construct our first affordable housing project — Yale Station, a six-story apartment complex for 55-and-over residents.

Since then, building affordable housing has been a major focus for Koelbel. We’ve completed over 10 projects to date and plan to create more attainable and affordable homes throughout Colorado and beyond. Our most recent undertaking is Lone Tree, Colorado’s first affordable housing community, RidgeGate. Located in the town center, this development features a community room, covered patio, fitness center, picnic area, and playground.

Finding an affordable apartment in the Mile High City doesn’t have to be out of reach. Find affordable rentals in Denver, Boulder, and beyond with Koelbel. We’ve partnered with local affordable housing programs in Colorado to offer budget-friendly housing to Front Range residents.

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