Renter Stigma: Social and Economic Pressure in the Housing Market

renterBy Angelina Bader
Apartment List

Apartment List surveyed over 5,000 renters and homeowners about their perception of renter stigma. The survey results indicate that nearly 30 percent of Americans believe that there exists a negative social stigma associated with renting. This belief is prevalent among renters and homeowners alike. 34 percent of renters and 28 percent of homeowners agree that America’s renters – all 109,000,000 of them – are stigmatized in today’s society.

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans equate homeownership with personal success and economic security.

Eighty-six percent of respondents believe that homeownership is important for personal success, and 87 percent state that homeownership is important for financial security. The vast majority believe homeownership is the better financial decision, despite a growing body of evidence demonstrating this is not universally true. Belief in renter stigma is strongest among homeowners who go against this conventional wisdom and say they would actually be saving money by renting.

Apartment List found stigma to be more prevalent in demographics and places where renting is more common, such as younger respondents and those living in larger metropolitan areas. In particular, this is true in denser, more expensive neighborhoods.

Lacking affordable housing options, many renters make financial and emotional sacrifices to afford their housing costs.

Most alarming are short-term sacrifices that greatly affect long-term economic security, such as withdrawing from personal savings, putting less money away for retirement, or taking on additional credit card debt. As a result, 73 percent of renters experience some level of emotional stress whenever rent becomes due. Belief in renter stigma is highest among this group of renters.

Today, the rental market is changing dramatically across the country, and the affordability crisis is bringing housing equity into the mainstream national political discussion. Going forward, this will hopefully put downward pressure on the existence of a negative renter stigma.

To see the entire report, click here.