By Cheryl Reid-Simons

The roof over your head is increasingly likely to be one you rent rather than own, according to a recent report by USA Today. Nearly one in five Akron-area single-family homes are rented rather than owner-occupied.

That’s just one result of the housing boom and bust that put thousands of homes in foreclosure and homeowners unable to sell for what they owed. If homeowners needed to move but couldn’t sell, many became landlords.

Now, even with the market recovering, many of those “accidental” landlords are renewing the leases and aren’t in a hurry to sell, Solon real estate agent Robert Gallmann said.

“It’s worked out great for some,” Gallmann said. “In fact there are more that it worked out for than not.”

According to the USA Today report, which is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, 12.9 percent of single-family homes in the Akron metropolitan area were rentals in 2006. But by last year, rentals accounted for 17.8 percent of single-family homes.

That’s the trend in cities across the nation, but while the percentage of renters is rising, some cities, like Des Moines, Iowa, have far fewer. In Des Moines, just 13.2 percent of single-family homes are rentals, up from less than 10 percent six years earlier. Nationally, 18 percent of occupied single-family homes were rentals last year, a 3 percent increase since 2006.

Besides working out for the newly minted landlords, Gallmann said some people are finding they enjoy the renter lifestyle that frees them from concerns about maintenance and leaves them able to relocate quickly for a new job.
Rentals in Aurora are easy to find.

“Aurora has a lot more condos than neighboring communities,” Gallmann said.

But single-family home rentals are more difficult to find and very much in demand. That allows landlords to be pickier about their tenants and command higher rents.

A real estate agent can help a homeowner find and screen tenants in exchange for the first month’s rent, Gallmann said. That includes marketing and credit checks of potential tenants to help protect homeowners.

“In 17 years of doing this we’ve only had one go into eviction,” he said.