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Vacancy Rate (Residential)

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What does this indicator mean?

The percentage of residential property that is unoccupied. A “good” vacancy rate helps ensure neighborhoods are desirable and affordable and varies depending on the rental and housing market of a given town or city. Typically, this rate is between 5–8%. 

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How is this indicator useful for creating and measuring activity-friendly places?

  • To determine a balanced number of units available and unavailable in a community.
  • To identify causes of unusually low average vacancy rates (e.g., housing shortages; high percentage of short-term vacation rentals) or high average vacancy rates (e.g., unappealing to renters or oversupply of units) and develop programs to address the causes.
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What would help the most people benefit from this indicator?

  • Empower community residents to identify solutions and make decisions on how to revitalize their communities.
  • Encourage developers to build affordable housing based on community needs and context.
  • Establish “Just-Cause” eviction ordinances to protect current tenants.
  • Convene a coalition across different sectors (e.g., public, private, nonprofit, policy) and the community at-large to ensure that redevelopment serves the community’s interest.
  • Provide a range of housing sizes, types, and costs (see “housing affordability”).
  • Consider a higher property tax rate on vacant houses and/or short term vacation rentals.