Four out of five Boston renters believe rent is too high, blame tech industry, landlords; two in five want more security, value privacy

Survey explores Boston rental market and the impact of high rent, technology, and economic growth on landlords and tenants

Seattle, Wash — Online legal services provider Avvo today released the results of a study on the experiences and attitudes of renters in Boston, finding that more than four out of five (81%) Boston area renters believe rental prices are too high. When asked about what they wanted in return for paying more in rent, more than two in five (43%) renters surveyed said they’d be generally willing to pay more rent if a security system was installed in their rental.

As residential rental prices in Boston continue to rise, local renters are feeling the pressure, and some are wishing they were out of the rental game altogether. When asked about the process for finding their home, two out of three (69%) said it was tough to find a good place to rent. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) renters would prefer to own their own home, with one quarter of renters (25%) having owned their own home in the past. Interestingly, although renters in other areas of the country with a growing tech industry blame the industry for causing rents to spike – 76% of renters in San Francisco, 57% in Austin and 58% in Seattle said this was true – less than one third of Boston area renters (29%) said the same.

For Boston renters who don’t believe the tech industry is the only culprit when it comes to high rent, some simply believe their landlord is to blame for rising rent and rental maintenance costs. One in four (27%) said their current landlord has raised their rent too high, and one in five (22%) also said their landlord raises their rent too often. Similarly, one in five (19%) have had a landlord unfairly keep their security deposit. One quarter (27%) of renters surveyed have had a landlord refuse to repair something, and 23% have had issues with adequate pest control. These findings may contribute to the fact that one in five (19%) renters believe landlords are generally unethical people.

Renters demand privacy and safety, and take action when rental issues arise

When asked what they expected from their landlord, the majority of Boston renters surveyed mentioned privacy and safety. They wish to be left alone once they’re settled into a lease, except when there is a problem with their rental or their rent is raised – and they aren’t afraid to take legal action if their landlord fails to meet their expectations. Nearly nine in ten (89%) reported that disrespecting a tenant’s right to privacy is a serious problem. When surveyed, 89% of Boston renters also said that they would “take it seriously” if their landlord unexpectedly increased their rent; however, half of renters (53%) said they’d reconsider taking action against a landlord who upset them if the price of rent was decent, and 53% also stated that they’d reconsider taking action if their landlord was quick to respond to emails and calls about issues with their rental.

Understanding their role in a positive rental experience, Boston renters are generally good tenants. Only one in ten (11%) have damaged property without telling a landlord, and similarly, only ten percent have hidden a pet from a landlord. Fifteen percent of renters report having had an extra person living with them without their landlord or property managers’ knowledge. Less than one in five (17%) renters have had an extra key made for their rental property in violation of their rental agreement.

For additional resources about residential or commercial lease agreements, tenant rights, or to find a lawyer who specializes in landlord-tenant or real estate law in your area, visit

About this study

Avvo conducts periodic studies of topics at the intersection of lifestyle and the law to better understand the issues facing individuals engaging with attorneys and the legal system. Given that nearly every working adult pays rent and/or taxes on property, and that real estate law represents one of the largest and most routine needs for legal help in the United States, understanding the tensions in the current rental/real estate market between is beneficial to the landlords, renters, property owners and real estate industry professionals and attorneys whom Avvo serves.

“Avvo is committed to understanding American social and cultural experiences so that we can better understand the people we seek to help,” said Nika Kabiri, Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo. “Millions of consumers seek legal help on Avvo every day and we want to interact with them in meaningful ways. We conduct several consumer studies every year to learn more about what matters to them.”

Avvo offers consumers legal help on-demand with fixed-fee, limited scope legal services from a local, experienced attorney of their choice, such as an advice session with an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant or real estate law, legal review of an eviction notice, or legal counsel in creating a residential lease agreement. Avvo lawyers additionally answer questions about residential or commercial property, lease agreements, landlord-tenant and real estate law in the company’s Q&A forum for free every day, and are featured in the Avvo directory, which includes consumer reviews and detailed profiles for 97% of licensed attorneys in the United States.


These are findings from a Research Now poll conducted in June 2016. For the survey, a sample of over 1,000 U.S. renters age 18 and over was interviewed online, with boosts to reach 500 respondents in Seattle, 501 in San Francisco, 504 in Boston, and 389 in Austin. The precision of Research Now is measured using a nonprobability sampling. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents.

About Avvo, Inc.

Avvo helps people find and connect with the right lawyer through industry leading content, tools and services. Founded in 2006 in Seattle, Avvo provides transparent information about attorneys, with Avvo-rated profiles for 97% of practicing lawyers in the United States. A free Q&A forum with more than 8 million questions and answers and on-demand legal services that provide professional counsel for a fixed cost, make legal faster and easier. For more information on how Avvo helps people through legal issues from research to resolution, visit

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