A third of U.S. renters didn’t pay rent on time, report says

April 9, 2020

Photo by Anthony Formin on Unsplash

Just 69 percent of apartment renters in the United States paid rent during the first week of April, according to a new report released this week by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC). This a decrease of 12 percentage points compared to the percentage of households that paid rent last month. The data is one of the first looks at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic–which has put millions of Americans out of work– on the housing market.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in significant health and financial challenges for apartment residents and multifamily owners, operators and employees in communities across the country,” Doug Bibby, the president of NMHC, said.

The group’s Rent Payment Tracker displays information collected from 13.4 million rental units across the country and updates weekly, with new data released every Wednesday. Partial payments made during the first week of the month are included in that 69 percent, with payments made later in the month possibly not reflected.

It’s important to note that the end of the first week fell, April 5, fell on a Sunday. With most banks closed and landlords unable to process checks, data from April 1 to April 5 may not appear until the second week.

Renters in New York who are unable to make rent are temporarily protected by a three-month moratorium on evictions, ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month. But following the eviction freeze, any unpaid rent will still be due. City and state lawmakers have called for more protections for tenants who have been affected by COVID-19, including rent forgiveness for both residential and commercial renters.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents parts of Queens, introduced legislation last month that would cancel rent for three months for tenants who were laid off or had to close a business as a result of the pandemic. His bill would also provide support to homeowners affected by the loss of rental income. With no action on the bill, Gianaris asked Cuomo on Wednesday to issue an executive order to cancel rent in New York.

“The economic consequences of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come and the work of rebuilding New York will dominate policy-making in all branches of government for the foreseeable future,” Gianaris wrote in a letter to the governor on Wednesday.

“Your leadership in response to the public health component of the coronavirus outbreak is being held up as an example across the nation. Now is the time to take action to combat the housing and economic crises that are soon to follow.”

State. Sens Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz this week drafted a bill to complement Ginaris’ rent cancelation legislation. The “Tenant Safe Harbor Act” would prevent landlords from evicting tenants for not paying rent during New York’s state of emergency and would extend protections for six months afterward.

To date, Cuomo has said the suspension of evictions provides enough protection for renters across the state and has not committed to any further rent relief plans.


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