UC Davis Housing Survey Finds Vacancy Down, Rents Up Slightly


“Apartment vacancy in the city of Davis is down and rents are static or up slightly,” according to a fall survey commissioned by Student Housing at UC Davis and released Tuesday.

“The annual vacancy – and rental – rate survey, now in its 39th year, is designed to provide the campus and the Davis community with information for planning,” the release stated.

The study again shows the need for the city and university to work together on a viable policy for rental housing.

According to the survey, just 24 apartments, or 0.3 percent, of 8,274 leased by unit, were vacant, compared with 160 apartments, or 1.9 percent, of the 8,206 units in last year’s survey.

Among 898 units rented by the bed, 35, or 1.3 percent, of  2,800 beds were vacant. Last year, 81, or 3.5 percent, of 2,302 beds in 818 units were vacant.


These findings come at a time when the Davis community could be asked to vote on Nishi, which could provide 600-700 units of high density, potential student housing.

The concepts that were presented to the council in 2014 discussed roughly 500-700 housing units in the form of apartments and condominiums, with another 300-500,000 square feet of non-residential development on the Nishi property, which has been viewed as proposed space for innovation and technology.

According to staff, “The EIR will analyze 650 residential units and 325,000 square feet of office/research development, plus approximately 20,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail uses (likely on the ground floor of the residential buildings).”

The Vanguard has called on city officials and university officials to look to models of higher density housing to meet the needs of student residents.

While the vacancy rate remains startlingly low, the majority of respondents in the survey reported static or slightly increasing rents.

The average rent for unfurnished two-bedroom apartments – which account for 46 percent of apartments leased by unit in the survey — was $1,373, compared with $1,275 in fall 2013.

The average rental rate for a bed lease was $827 per month, compared with $825 in fall 2013.

Twenty-five apartment complexes, representing about 2,660 units, reported offering incentives to help fill vacancies and attract new residents. The incentives included free or reduced rent at move-in, reduced deposits, waived application fees, free utilities, referral programs and giveaways.

According to the release from UC Davis, the survey methodology was as follows: “A total of 134 apartment complexes and property management companies representing 9,922 rental units responded to the fall survey by BAE Urban Economics, a real estate consulting firm in Davis. This represents a 6.3 percent increase in the number of responding complexes and a 1.5 percent increase in the number of rental units covered.

“The survey includes apartments in the city of Davis and privately managed apartments on campus: The Colleges at LaRue, The Atriums, Russell Park, 8th and Wake, and West Village.

“The report excludes those apartments that require an income-eligibility test to qualify low-income residents for reduced rent because students typically are not eligible for these units.”

According to the release, “UC Davis, which guarantees housing to new freshman and transfer students, offers about 10,028 beds, including the 3,850 beds in 1,277 privately managed and master-leased units that were included in the survey.”

Last fall, “it opened the Tercero North Residence Complex with about 1,335 beds for new and continuing undergraduates and the 8th and Wake apartment complex of 60 apartments with 236 beds for graduate

In addition, the university is in the design phase for the Tercero Phase IV residential complex. The three four-story buildings, scheduled to open in fall 2017, will have a total of 500 beds.

However, the university has put on hold efforts to tear down affordable graduate housing at Solano Park and Orchard Park after students protested the planned demolition of the facilities last spring.

Dean Jeffery Gibeling, dean to graduate and professional students, explains, “The campus has been planning for several years to redevelop student family housing in Orchard and Solano Parks. These apartments were opened in the early 1960’s and are in great need of being upgraded.”

Bob Segar from the university and Perkosh Pinto, the developer, have since January laid out conceptual plans which lays out the Nishi-Gateway project and presents the idea of high density housing both on the Nishi portion as well as the university portion of the site.

Those plans remain on hold at the moment.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. sisterhood

    Has the landlord tenant situation in Davis improved at all? Do landlords still routinely keep cleaning deposits for a longer period of time than is legally mandated? Must tenants go to small claims court , or threaten legal action, to get their cleaning deposits returned? Especially for normal wear and tear issues? (Especially carpet that is older than eight years?)

    I heard a rumor that there is a website that allows tenants and landlords to post reviews of landlords and tenants? That woud seem to be extremely useful.

    Does anyone know what percentage of homes in Davis are rental homes, or homes occupied by family members of the actual homeowner, who lives elsewhere?

    Again, I would love to hear from some actual students or renters.

  2. Tia Will

    One item struck me from the table. That was the 0 % of studios. Does anyone know why there is no availability of studio apartments in Davis ? This seems an odd gap in the housing market in a town with many, many graduate and professional students looking for a relatively inexpensive, compact and private place to live while studying.

  3. Tia Will


    Must tenants go to small claims court , or threaten legal action, to get their cleaning deposits returned?”

    While I would agree that in landlord renter relations, the landlord usually has the upper hand, attempting to unfairly take advantage of the specifications of a rental agreement is not a one way street. My first experience of renting out a home ended with the law students, who we thought would be reliable renters, leaving trash and discarded furniture strewn throughout the house, in the back yard and on the porch and then taking us to small claims court for the entirety of their deposit. Fortunately my now ex husband had taken extensive pictures of the property and the judge threw the case out in disgust telling them that as law students they should have known better than to waste the court’s time. It still cost us a trip from Southern California, time in court, and the necessity to hire an entire cleaning crew to make the house habitable again.

  4. sisterhood

    I agree. My daughter loves her studio in the bay area, it’s the only thing she can afford right now.

    Your law student anecdote is a good support of my question re: websites that discuss landlords and tenants. They also help people decide who is a good candidate. Like a yelp review.

    1. hpierce

      Been there, done that.  T-shirt was retired years ago. When we returned to Davis, “for good” (1979), and needed to find an apartment, the vacancy rate was 0.25% (yes, one quarter of one percent).  Due to the rental rates as a result, we decided to buy a “fixer-upper” a year later… at 12% owner-financed interest rate (commercially available was  13.5%).  So, 0.25%, rounded, = 0.3%.  Same-same.

    1. hpierce

      Once again, why isn’t UCD “doing more to address the need for students/ rental housing?” One of the past strategies of UCD is to acquire apartments within the City (taking them off the tax rolls — same service required of City, less revenue) and then destroy them reducing the number of total units available (Wake Forest) to promote (?) their limited, new product in West Village.

      Unlike DP, am not sympathetic to UCD in this area, and feel no need to make sacrifices or expend City resources to solve this “problem” largely created by UCD’s actions. Yeah, I’m just a mean person.

      And yes… my spouse and I were UCD students, lived in rental units in the city, and via our rent, paid property taxes.

  5. Tia Will


    Unlike DP, am not sympathetic to UCD in this area, and feel no need to make sacrifices or expend City resources to solve this “problem” largely created by UCD’s actions. “

    Unfortunately this attitude does not harm UCD one iota. It has nothing to do with being sympathetic to UCD. It just might have something to do with having empathy for the plight of the students trying to find a place to live. Or it might take the form of wanting to reduce traffic or emission from students who have to find housing in the surrounding communities. I don’t believe that you are being “mean”. I do believe that this is a short sighted attitude and demonstrates that you are willing to “cut off your nose” to spite your face.

    1. hpierce

      OK, but why doesn’t UC or the State have empathy for their raison d’etre?  One could say our “empathy” is ‘enabling’ UC to push the problem/issue to others.  And you completely ignore UC’s lack of empathy for the City folk, when they take property off our tax rolls, & the City (and County) have to provide services.

  6. Anon

    UCD has no obligation legally to provide student housing is my understanding.  The city has a policy against “urban sprawl”, so there are limited opportunities for housing development – and single family homes are more profitable.  So you tell me how this problem is going to get resolved, especially with redevelopment funding for the city gone?

  7. MrsW

    I just read Wednesday’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Airbnb pays tax bill of ‘tens of millions’ to S.F.” http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/M-R-Airbnb-pays-tens-of-millions-in-back-6087802.php

    The article states “[Critics] say Airbnb-style rentals are turning neighborhoods into de facto hotel rows and keeping badly needed rental units off the market.”

    Our neighbor is operating her house exclusively for short-term rentals and advertises on FlipKey and Airbnb.  I wonder if there are others?  And if, collectively, they are affecting rental unit availability and prices?  I did a quick search on airbnb.com for Davis, California, for a weekend in April.  My search yielded 32 rentals in Davis.  FlipKey is only showing 1 rental that weekend.

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