As of Oct. 6, 79.4% of U.S. apartment households followed by the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker had made a full or partial October rent payment. That is an uptick compared with the week ending Sept. 6, when 76.4% had paid, and the same as the week ending Oct. 6, 2019.
By the end of September, 94.6% of renters had paid at least some of their rent for the month. That compares with 95.5% at the end of September 2019, the NMHC reports.
The survey takes into account 11.4 million apartment units nationwide that are professionally managed. Altogether, there are 48.2 million U.S. apartment units, according to the Census Bureau’s Rental Housing Finance Survey released this summer.
The Rent Tracker includes apartment properties of every size, but since it leaves out nonprofessionally managed units, which tend to be small, the survey skews toward larger properties.
Of the entire stock of rental properties, about half (49%) are in buildings with one to four units, and 73% of those smaller buildings are owned by individual investors, the Census Bureau notes — nonprofessionally managed, in other words.
Despite the positive turn of the early October payment numbers, the industry isn’t out of the woods. About 5.3 million U.S. renter households are dealing with a job loss, Forbes reports, with many of these renters occupying smaller properties. That is down from 8.9 million during the early days of the pandemic, according to an Urban Institute estimate.
Most are still receiving state unemployment, but the extra $600 per month provided through the CARES Act ended on July 31, and the stalemate in Congress over a new relief package means no more extra cash will be forthcoming from the federal government in the immediate future. Urban Institute estimates 68% of renter households suffering a job loss are rent-burdened, or paying more than 30% of their income for rent, when they are receiving only state unemployment payments.
So far, the national eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still in place, though challenges to it are working their way through the courts. Various state and local eviction moratoriums are also still in place.
As long as that is the case, renters far behind on payments can’t be evicted for that reason, but after Dec. 31, when the moratorium expires — unless it is extended — they will be again at risk. In the meantime, many small landlords are presumably suffering from income loss as well, though those numbers aren’t tracked.
“The CDC’s eviction moratorium affords most renters a few extra months without the threat of losing their housing,” the Urban Institute reported. “But the inability to pay rent puts renters and landlords in precarious financial situations.”