Rental owners report soaring vacancies

Southern Oregon Rental Owners Association reported a 9.4 percent vacancy rate for June, the highest level in the 20 years that the organization has surveyed its members.

"We knew some of our renters couldn't afford it and moved in with families," said association manager Roberta Claudson of SOROA, which consists of rental owners with anywhere from a few rentals to hundreds of properties. "We thought it would be balanced out by people who had lost their homes. But apparently, they've moved in with families, too."

She said multiple-family housing has been hit harder than houses.

"Houses are staying good," Claudson said. "But it's the apartments that are seeing it; the ex-homeowners still want a house."

In the report for June — the most recent month for which figures were available — SOROA members said they had 414 vacancies out 4,392 reporting units. One year earlier, the vacancy rate was 5.5 percent. It was 5.9 percent in the summer of 2007 and 2.3 percent in 1999.

The local vacancy report represents only the owners who reported figures for the association's June meeting.

Nationally, rental owners are finding themselves with even more empty units. The vacancy rate increased to a record 10.6 percent in the second quarter, according to the Census Bureau.

HomeTownRent of Chapel Hill, N.C., anticipates that the rate will spike at 11.5 percent and slowly decline toward 8.5 percent by 2012 as excess housing and apartment inventory is soaked up by additional renters.

The Census Bureau estimates there are more than 80 million people living in nearly 40 million rental units. There are more than 1 million vacant rental properties than in 2000.

SOROA also announced it has moved its office, overseen by association coordinator Sharri Dallas, to Suite 10 of the Estate Building, 10 Crater Lake Ave., Medford.

The association's new hours are noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number remains 842-7676. However, there is a new fax number, 858-3081.

SOROA's next meeting is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15 in the conference room of the Housing Authority of Jackson County, 2231 Table Rock Road. Diane Hess of the Fair Housing Council will be the speaker.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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