The rent in Chapel Hill keeps going up — way up. The average rent price in the Town climbed 1.9 percent in November and has gone up 16 percent from last year's rate.
Across North Carolina, rent prices are soaring, with all ten of the largest cities in the state experiencing increases in rent prices in the past year.
Median rents in Chapel Hill are currently $1,275 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,388 for a two-bedroom.
“We know that we have a housing problem — if not a crisis — in Chapel Hill,” Chapel Hill Mayor Pro Tem Michael Parker said.
Parker said he understands that rent increases of this magnitude are making it challenging for Chapel Hill residents to find affordable places to live — something he said the Town Council is working to address.
“What we are trying to do is create more options for folks through direct involvement with projects like 2200 Homestead,” Parker said.
The 2200 Homestead Rd. project was passed by the council in May to support affordable housing development on Town-owned land.
Savinna Mangalindan, a recent UNC graduate, transferred in as a junior and lived at Chapel Ridge. She felt like she was getting a fair cost of living compared to other apartments.
But when it came time to renew her lease, the rent price increased even though there were no significant changes to the apartment complex.
She also worked more hours to afford all of her expenses as a student.
“I am lower income, so that’s why I felt the need to say something about it," Mangalindan said. "It affected me more than others."
Erin McNell, a student in the UNC School of Medicine, had a similar experience. She said she has lived in Rock Creek Apartments since July 2020, but is considering moving to Durham because of rising prices in Chapel Hill.
“I think a total increase in rent of $60 over two years is rather high, and I’m not sure of the reason,” McNell said.
McNell said the rent price alone was one-third of her monthly salary, which made it difficult to live comfortably.
“During the winter months, I was living paycheck to paycheck,” McNell said.
McNell said she believes the increased rent is due to competition as a result of a more populated student body each year.
Michael Cunningham, a real estate broker at Hart & Olive Real Estate Group , said he believes the increase in rent is due to other natural factors.
“The fundamental rule of real estate is supply and demand and there isn’t enough supply for all the people who want to buy a home,” Cunningham said. “The investors who buy homes to rent out to college students increase their rent because they spent more to buy the house in the first place.”
Parker said he believes addressing the rent increases in Chapel Hill should be the Council's top priority.
“I hope folks know that this is something our Council takes very seriously,” Parker said. “It is not something we have direct control over, but it is something we care deeply about.”
However, Cunningham said he believes that students should not be quick to react to the increase in rent.
“That’s pretty much one of the guarantees in life — that you will have to pay more this year than last year,” Cunningham said.
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