Total average monthly revenue per occupied unit for the consolidated portfolio increased to $4,077 in the fourth quarter of 2012 from $4,073 in the fourth quarter of 2011. The consolidated rate increase was somewhat muted by the acquisition of the Blackstone JV communities, which as a group has lower average rates than the legacy Emeritus communities. In the fourth quarter of 2012, total average occupancy for the consolidated portfolio increased 20 basis points to 86.8% compared to 86.6% in the fourth quarter of 2011. The increase was due primarily to improved occupancy in the Consolidated Same Community portfolio. Total Portfolio Same Community monthly revenue per occupied unit increased 3.0% in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to the fourth quarter of the prior year, and average occupancy improved by 60 basis points over the same period.
Community operating expenses increased $56.3 million to $275.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to $219.4 million in the 2011 period, due primarily to acquisition-related activities. Community operating expenses in the Consolidated Same Community portfolio were held to an increase of 0.5%, or $1.0 million; normal inflationary and certain other expense increases were offset somewhat by improved efficiencies in the Company’s healthcare self-insurance program as well as lower bad debt expense. The fourth quarter of 2012 included $1.5 million in non-recurring legal settlement costs.
Community operating income increased $34.3 million, or 34.4%, to $133.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Community operating income margin increased 150 basis points to 32.7% in the fourth quarter, compared to 31.2% in the prior-year period, reflecting improved occupancy and rate, combined with effective expense controls. Total Portfolio Same Community operating margin increased 240 basis points to 33.7% in 2012, compared to 31.3% in 2011; the larger percentage increase in this total portfolio was due to accelerated improved performance in the former Blackstone JV communities.