The data on contract rent (also referred to as "rent asked" for vacant units) were obtained from Housing Question 15a in the 2010 American Community Survey. The question was asked at occupied housing units that were for rent, vacant housing units that were for rent, and vacant units rented but not occupied at the time of interview.
Housing units that are renter occupied without payment of rent are shown separately as "No rent paid." The unit may be owned by friends or relatives who live elsewhere and who allow occupancy without charge. Rent-free houses or apartments may be provided to compensate caretakers, ministers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, or others.
Contract rent is the monthly rent agreed to or contracted for, regardless of any furnishings, utilities, fees, meals, or services that may be included. For vacant units, it is the monthly rent asked for the rental unit at the time of interview.
If the contract rent includes rent for a business unit or for living quarters occupied by another household, only that part of the rent estimated to be for the respondent's unit was included. Excluded was any rent paid for additional units or for business premises.
If a renter pays rent to the owner of a condominium or cooperative, and the condominium fee or cooperative carrying charge also is paid by the renter to the owner, the condominium fee or carrying charge was included as rent.
If a renter receives payments from lodgers or roomers who are listed as members of the household, the rent without deduction for any payments received from the lodgers or roomers, was to be reported. The respondent was to report the rent agreed to or contracted for even if paid by someone else such as friends or relatives living elsewhere, a church or welfare agency, or the government through subsidies or vouchers.
Contract rent provides information on the monthly housing cost expenses for renters. When the data is used in conjunction with utility costs and income data, the information offers an excellent measure of housing affordability and excessive shelter costs. The data also serve to aid in the development of housing programs to meet the needs of people at different economic levels, and to provide assistance to agencies in determining policies on fair rent.