More than 76 percent of U.S. rental households have made rent payments as of Sept. 6, according to the latest report on rent payments from the National Multifamily Housing Council.
The report comes a month after additional $600 a week unemployment benefits expired and about a week after the Trump administration announced a nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of the year.
According to the study, 76.4 percent of rental households made full or partial rent payments between Sept. 1 to Sept. 6, a 4.8 percent decrease from the same time period last year and a 2.9 percent decrease from the same time period last month, when 79.3 percent of renters had made payments by August 6.
“The initial rent payment figures from September have begun to demonstrate the increasing challenges apartment residents are facing. Falling rent payments mean that apartment owners and operators will increasingly have difficulty meeting their mortgages, paying their taxes and utilities and meeting payroll,” said NMHC President Doug Bibby in prepared remarks, adding that the national eviction moratorium enacted last week was a “stopgap measure” that ultimately will not help renters in financial distress.
The payment data was pulled from 11.4 million professionally managed, market-rate rental units across the country that vary widely by size, type and average rental price. This week’s report is the latest in the series from the NMHC Rent Payment Tracker, an initiative that partners with industry firms Entrata, MRI Software, RealPage, ResMan and Yardi.
While the figures represent a large swath of professionally managed rental apartments across the country, they do not reflect many single-family and small multifamily rental properties that are less likely to be professionally managed and are more likely to have residents with at-risk wages, according to Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
In a presentation on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on rental housing late last week, Airgood-Obrycki said 12.1 million renter households in the U.S. have residents with at-risk wages and metros in the South and the West have the highest share of renters with at-risk jobs and existing severe cost burdens.
Airgood-Obrycki estimated that with the extra unemployment benefits now expired, $3.5 billion in rental relief will be needed each month to fill the gap between lost incomes and rents. That cost could potentially rise to $7.5 billion a month.
“This is just addressing the cost of the pandemic and would not address people already cost burdened before the pandemic, so it’s still not solving the underlying affordability crisis,” she said.