Residents Face Increasing Rents in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Workers sweated through the heat Monday building new apartment complexes in both downtown and south Columbia, adding units to an industry that has been strained by increases in MU enrollment and Columbia's population in recent years. Although more apartments have been built in the city, renters still face steady increases on their rents each year.

Jacob Kerner is a junior engineering student at MU. He moved to Columbia five years ago. And he has been shocked by the rapid increase of the rent over the years.

"I started renting a small place for about $175 a month and over the years, the price started increasing for the same property," Kerner said.  He said his rent went up $20-$25 a month every year.

Kerner moved into Eastgate Apartment near the Stephens Lake area, paying $212 for one bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment. And two years later, the apartments got renovated and the owner raised the monthly rent to 300 dollars plus utilities.

Kerner believed that the increasing enrollment at MU led to an inflation of rent prices.

"They want to live as close as possible to the campus, so they rent all the properties. Therefore there's not enough properties to rent and the landlord could charge more."

The Brookside apartments in downtown Columbia is building more units this year. With more spaces available, the price didn't go down. People who lived in that complex said there is a $50 increase this year and it will charge $649 for each room in a four-bedroom unit this fall.

Even for those who are willing to pay more, they may not find a ideal place to live because it is too crowded.

Greg BIrch is the leasing agent at Cooper Beach apartments. He said his complex has leased out all the units for the next year. And there is an increase of ten to fifteen percent on the rent this year. For the four-bedroom apartment, the price is $1780 per month this year, compared to $1660 per month last year. Also, one third of the previous renters stayed for another year.

And for Tara Apartments and Manor House that are owned by MU, mostly leasing to graduate single students or those with families, the rent increased $10 per month this year.