COVID-19 Has Made Rent Unpayable for Many

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Apr 09, 2020

For those renters in the U.S., rent was due on the first of the month. But nearly a third of residents were unable to pay, according to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), which reported on April 8 a 12-percentage point drop in apartment households that paid rent through April 5, from the month before.

In NMHC’s first review of how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect rent payments, the tracker found that 69 percent of households had paid their April rent, compared to 81 percent in March and 82 percent in March 2019. Data for this month’s rent payment tracker was taken from 13.4 million apartments across the country. The numbers, however, do not include student housing, privatized military housing or subsidized affordable units, according to NMHC’s methodology.

“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, president of NMHC, said in a press release. “However, it is important to note that a large number of residents met their obligations despite unparalleled circumstances, and we will see that figure increase over the coming weeks.”

For residents who worry about eviction, especially if they were one of the 6.6 million who filed for unemployment last week, they may be temporarily protected. The federal government’s CARES Act, which was amended on March 27, has placed a temporary moratorium on evictions and loan forgiveness for mortgages. And NMHC has called on apartment firms to avoid rent increases, create payment plans and identify resources to help residents with food, healthcare and financial assistance, among other needs.