New residents and natives seeking rental housing encounter limited inventory, older buildings, and waiting lists in the city of Tehachapi whether they are looking for an apartment, townhouse or single-family residence.

Some may even need to look for a room to rent, offered by residents who own their own home but are taking on a tenant.

What are options for residents and people coming into the Tehachapi community? What is the average price of rentals? What do senior citizens, those on disability or low-income people have for choices?

“The vacancy rate is exceptionally low. I have tenants waiting for properties,” said Kathy Carey, owner of BVS Properties. She added, “Right now we have more people coming into the community than leaving. It’s families coming here to work, or retire — it's all over the place, which is good for the town.”

Rental rates for houses and apartments are steadily increasing, Carey added.

At least seven apartment complexes in the city of Tehachapi provide varied housing options, but few cater to low-income income individuals, offer senior housing or take Section 8.

“We need more housing and apartment rentals. I hate to turn people away and just now had to put a stop to a three-year waiting list,” said Samantha Darr, community manager for The Village Apartments on 200 N. Mill St.

The Village Apartments accepts applications from those who are low-income, seniors and those on disability, but due to there just not being enough rentals, more such housing is needed, said Darr.

Darr added that sometimes low-income housing is looked down upon, but good management will take care of the property and be an asset to the community.

“What would be great is more housing for low-income and it is difficult for people to find affordable, safe housing here in Tehachapi,” Darr said. "There are a lot of deserving families.”

Rental rates for apartments have increased over the past 10 years.

In 2009, more than 20 percent of the rentals went for less than $499 per month. But by 2017, those made up only 8 percent of the inventory. During that time span, more than 300 additional units were added in the city limits from the 673 listed in 2009, according to census.gov.

On the upper end, bigger or more luxurious apartments now go for as much as $1,400 a month in the city.

Many apartment complexes in the city were built in the 1970s and 1980s, with just a few new developments.

Some apartment complexes cater to clients who have cooperate referrals, are earning more than 2.5 times the rent or don’t mind paying for additional space, due to the lack of rentals, said Trisha Shreve, property manager at The Orchard Apartments on 420 N. Mill St.

“The availability of apartments are far and few between. I feel that the demand is higher than what we have. A lot of people want a one-bedroom, but there aren’t many in the community,” said Shreve.

She added, “Some things that determine rental rates — are the demand, and a lot of people want to live in Tehachapi. They are moving from all around California. They want to live here because there is less crime and not a busy city life.”

More senior citizen housing is also in high demand in the city.

“I think there is a need for medium-income senior housing. As far as I know, there is no other senior complex in town. I have a lot of people who want to come from Lancaster or Bakersfield. I get a fair amount of comments from people out of town especially if you are retiring," said Lee-Ann Alford, community manager for Tehachapi Senior Apartments, at 554 W. E St.

She added that the average wait list time is one to two years and income limits determine who can qualify for different apartments.

As of 2017, the median household income Tehachapi city limits was $44,470, and the median gross rent was $799 per month. The 3,250 households in the city showed more than 35 percent earning under $34,000 per year; with 64 percent earning above that amount, according to census.gov.