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Most Americans still paying their rent

 The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) found that 84 percent of apartment households made a full or partial rent payment by April 12 in its second survey of 11.5 million units of professionally managed apartment units across the country, up 15 percentage points from April 5.

  
NMHC’s Rent Payment Tracker numbers also examined historical numbers and found that 90 percent of renters made full or partial payments from April 1-12, 2019, and 91 percent of renters in March 1-12, 2020. 

The latest tracker numbers reflect a payment rate of 93 percent compared to the same time last month. These data encompass a wide variety of market-rate rental properties, which can vary by size, type and average rental price.  

DOUG BIBBY

“We are pleased to see that it appears that the vast majority of apartment residents who can pay their rent are doing so to help ensure that their properties can continue to operate safely and so apartment owners can help residents who legitimately need help,” said Doug Bibby, President of NMHC.

 “Unfortunately, unemployment levels are continuing to rise and delays have been reported in getting assistance to residents, which could affect May’s rent levels. It is our hope that, as residents begin receiving the direct payments and the enhanced unemployment benefits the federal government passed, we will continue to see improvements in rent payments.” 


“Anecdotally, we are hearing that different parts of the industry are experiencing different levels of rent payments,” said David Schwartz, NMHC Chair and CEO Chairman of Chicago-based Waterton.

“As you would expect, more expensive Class A properties, whose resident base may be more able to work from home, are reporting much higher percentage of rent payments than operators of more affordable workforce properties whose residents are more likely to have had their incomes disrupted because of the pandemic.”

  
“History offers us no frame of reference for the truly unprecedented economic situation we find ourselves in,” said Bibby. “With apartment firms stepping up to support their residents by waiving late fees, creating flexible payment plans and offering other creative solutions for residents impacted by COVID-19, we expected more renters to pay later in the month than has historically been the case.  The increase in this week’s number over last week’s, however, shows that apartment residents are continuing to pay rent despite the financial challenges facing them.” 


The NMHC Rent Payment Tracker metric provides insight into residents’ financial health over the course of each month, and, as the dataset ages, between months.  However, noteworthy technical issues may make historical comparisons imprecise. For example, factors such as varying days of the week on which data are collected; individual companies’ differing payment collection policies; shelter-in-place orders’ effects on residents’ ability to deliver payments in person or by mail; the closure of leasing offices, which may delay operators’ payment processing; and other factors can affect how and when rent data is processed and recorded.  


Total unit counts may change as units are leased or vacated and survey methodology is refined. 

The dataset only covers conventional, market-rate apartments. It excludes subsidized affordable units, single-family rentals, privatized military housing units and purpose-built student housing properties.

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