For most people 2020 had it's fair share of challenges. Covid 19 created economic turmoil that resulted in an unemployment spike, increased deliquency rates, and decreased rental collection rates. In most parts of the country rents stayed fairly flat or the rates at which they were increasing slowed but there were still metro areas that saw huge average rental price gains. As with home prices, rental rates are really determined by the supply/demand ratio. When supply exceeds demand, rates decline. When demand exceeds supply, rates rise. This supply and demand dynamic happens on a very localized level so it is important to dig in to the details and see what is causing the rates to increase or decrease and exactly where it is happening. To say that Memphis, TN saw an 8.3% rise in rental rates does not mean that if you own a property in Memphis you can increase your rents by that much and be competitive. You need to know specifically what neighborhoods and types of properties are seeing the increased demand. Then look to the edges and see where you can purchase properties in the path of progress.
With all of that being said, here is the macrodata on the top 10 rent growth metro areas in 2020. This data comes from Zillow so take it with a grain of salt as the saying goes. I am happy to be operating in 3 of these top 10 markets and have definitely benefited from rising rents.