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LA rents continue to flatline

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Unlike the cost of buying, renting hasn’t gotten much more expensive in 2018

Apartment building
Rental prices have plateaued in 2018.
Photo by Liz Kuball

The weather is heating up in Los Angeles, but the city’s rental market remains rather cool, with monthly prices barely budging in June.

According to Apartment List, the median rental price in the city of Los Angeles is now $1,360—right where it’s been for the past two months. For a two-bedroom, the median price also remains unchanged at $1,750.

Those estimates are based on census data and give a good approximation of what LA tenants are paying right now. For a sense of what prices renters can expect to find searching for available units, we asked CoStar for average rental prices based on current listings.

Across all of LA County, the price of a one-bedroom stands at $1,676. Two-bedrooms are listed for $2,135, on average. As in the Apartment List report, neither number is much higher than it was a month ago.

According to the Apartment List report, the cost of rent has gone up just 1.6 percent since a year ago, well below the state average of 2.1 percent and far below the 3 percent annual rent hike allowed by LA’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

That’s certainly welcome news for tenants, who already face some of the most unaffordable housing prices in the nation.

At the beginning of the year, some experts predicted that rental prices would begin to plateau—or even drop—in 2018. With more than half of renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, prices may simply be getting too high for the market to bear.

So far, that logic hasn’t carried over to the home-buying market. Prospective homeowners now face the highest prices in the county’s history, and the cost of real estate is only going up.

It’s enough to raise that age-old question: Is it better to buy or rent? In LA, neither option is cheap.