Nearly 25 percent of New York City renters have yet to make rent payments in June, according to one industry group’s survey.
The rent collections tallied by the Community Housing Improvement Program — which represents the owners of 400,000 rent-stabilized units, or a slice of the city’s 3 million units — varied widely. For some landlords, the drop-off was particularly acute: Nearly a fifth of those surveyed reported rent collections less than 60 percent of normal.
CHIP, which represents smaller landlords, called for a “massive federally-funded bailout” for renters to mitigate the “devastating impact” of the rent shortfalls. Landlords were excluded from the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (though some found legal loopholes). The most direct form of rental assistance came in the form of a one-time $1,200 check from the federal government to individuals and enhanced unemployment benefits. On the state level, a rent assistance bill is waiting to be signed into law.
In the survey, 66 percent of commercial tenants paid no rent so far in June. Forty percent of respondents said they will struggle to pay their property taxes, and nearly 6 percent said they will not be able to make any property tax payments on July 1.
The group’s May survey showed similarly dismal rent collection numbers — and it remains unclear what those figures will look like once enhanced unemployment expires in July.
“It is clear that the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are nowhere near an end. There are thousands of tenants and building owners who need help now,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP. “Renters need a massive federally-funded bailout or we will see families across our city suffer in unimaginable ways. State and City officials must also work with small building owners to relieve their crushing tax burden so they can have more flexibility to work with tenants that can’t make rent payments.”
City and state legislators have proposed — and even passed — measures to provide some relief to renters and landlords, but none have been signed into law. One bill intended to provide relief for landlords in New York City in the form of a property tax deferral was fast-tracked in the City Council — but critics say the measure would only kick the can down the road. And with reduced late fees piling up on deferred taxes, landlords may end up paying more to the city’s coffers in the form of late fees in exchange for the extra time.
Assessing residential rent payments during the pandemic has been difficult. Another industry group, the National Multifamily Housing Council, found that 89 percent of renters paid at least some rent in June so far in its most recent survey of 11.4 market-rate, professionally managed apartments — significantly more than CHIP’s survey.
Another factor in New York City is rent strikes, which Martin said are an ongoing issue, although the impact on rent collections is unclear.