Tenants unite to protest high rent as construction boom continues

DENVER (KDVR) — Rent in Denver is leveling off but is still high compared to other cities, leaving many struggling to make ends meet. Experts say more housing is needed to bring the cost down.

The Apartment Association of Metro Denver reports renters pay an average of $1,888 per month. That’s up 1% from a year ago.

Mitch Nylen, who moved to Denver from Florida four months ago, said he’s still reeling from rental sticker shock.

“It’s a bummer. It’s a lot of money,” Nylen told FOX31.

The apartment association’s report shows vacancies are down 1% from last quarter. The lowest vacancy rate is 4.7% in the Boulder/Broomfield region, while the highest is in Denver County at 5.6%.

“Very competitive. It seems like not a lot of empty units. A lot of people still moving here, so maybe more units with more availability would drive prices down a little bit,” Nylen said.

The metro area now has more than 411,000 apartments. The apartment association’s third-quarter report shows 2,812 new apartments were added to the market in that period, with another 3,000 expected by the end of 2023.

Tenants group pushes for improvements from landlords

Bruno Tapia founded the Denver-Aurora Tenants United organization to provide renters with more input and dialogue with landlords.

“Denver and Colorado are kind of a landlord’s paradise, right? There’s no restrictions on what they can get away with, what they’re charging people, and we’re seeing it impact people’s lives directly,” Tapia said.

The group now has members representing seven metro-area apartment complexes and is working with landlords on maintenance concerns and monitoring adherence to Colorado’s public health and safety laws.

“We don’t see their voice represented in our local policy. We don’t see their voice represented in the decisions that they made about what gets built, how much it costs, you know — whether you can afford to live in your city or not, what kind of conditions you live under — and our goal is to create tenant power,” Tapia said.

Those looking to join the organization can contact Tapia at

Rentals subject to supply and demand, too

While rental fee price-gouging is a concern, how much a tenant pays is greatly influenced by supply and demand.

Drew Hamrick, senior vice president for government affairs and general counsel for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, issued a statement saying “the solution is to continue to push for more housing and let the market naturally sort itself out.”

Nearly 110,000 new apartments have been built in the metro area over the past 10 years. The apartment association points out that costs for many other products and services are increasing, so flat rental rates are encouraging.

The association reports that approximately 120,000 new apartment units are in the construction and planning phase, and more than 200 new apartment communities are currently under construction.

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