The National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker has found that 89% of apartment households—sourced from 11.4 million professionally managed units across the country—had made a full or partial June 2020 rent payment by June 13.
This number represents an increase in the share of collections over the same periods in May and April, when 87.7% and 85% of renters had made a rent payment, respectively. Notably, it also shows a 0.1 percentage point increase over the share of collections during the same period in June 2019.
“Once again, it appears that residents of professionally managed apartments were able to largely pay their rent. However, there is a growing realization that renters outside of this universe are experiencing profound hardships as the nation continues to grapple with historic unemployment and economic dislocation,” says Doug Bibby, NMHC president.
While rent collections appear to be on the rise, NMHC vice president of business strategy Sarah Yaussi warns that this data is not necessarily a forward-looking indicator, and no sources are available to show how rent is being paid based on income resources. About half of renter households report being affected by unemployment, which suggests that unemployment benefits could make a difference in renters’ ability to pay. This could become a concern in August, when expanded unemployment benefits are due to expire.
When asked if the worst is behind us, Chase Harrington, COO of Entrata, says it’s hard to tell. Despite rising leasing activity in May and into June, he also notes a decrease in renewals, as well as a rise in month-to-month leases. Brian Zrimsek, industry principal at MRI Software, reports a substantial spike in credit card payments in May, which could suggest either rent payment by credit card out of necessity or an attempt to receive credit card perks based on the relaxing of limits.
“In the midst of a pandemic and a recession, it is critical that those on the front lines are safely and securely housed,” Bibby adds. “Accordingly, we urge lawmakers to take swift action to create a Rental Assistance Fund and extend unemployment benefits so we can avoid future eviction-related problems and don’t undermine the initial recovery.”