News Story

Michigan rental prices lag national average

More than $1,500 per month in the most expensive states, $923 in Michigan

While rental prices in Michigan have entered the political arena recently, newly released survey data shows rates here are below the national average. The survey was released on Aug. 31, a few days before roughly 200 Michiganders descended on the state Capitol Sept. 5 for a rally to complain that rental rates are too high.

Michigan ranks 30th in the nation on an important measurement of rental costs, according to, which collected information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In this case, being No. 1 means having the most expensive rent, while 25 and 26 are near the national average and 30 is below it.

HUD collects data on rental units, with utilities included, focusing on the amount representing the 40th percentile in each state. The number for Michigan is $923 per month. Arkansas has the lowest number among the 50 states, at $768 per month. The ten states with the highest rent for a two-bedroom unit averaged over $1,500 per month. Hawaii has the most expensive rent at $1,951 per month.

Some Michigan legislators introduced in June what is sometimes dubbed a “renter’s bill of rights,” aimed at creating more rental properties at cheaper costs. The legislation is likely to have the opposite effect, according to a recent report in Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Media headlines report rent prices as a factor driving higher inflation. “As to whether higher rents cause inflation, or rent causes inflation, it’s neither,” said Mackinac Center Director of Fiscal Policy James Hohman. “The Federal Reserve tries to control inflation and it doesn’t do it by setting rent prices.”

The Consumer Price Index is an official measurement of inflation, and it includes rent for primary residences. Rent has increased 20.1% from 2017 to 2022, slightly higher than CPI, which increased by 19.4% over the same period.

The median household income in Michigan is 92% of the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while the median gross rent here is 82% of the national average.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.