Landlords may be breathing a sigh of relief.
April rent payments across the country are down 7 percent compared with the previous month, according to the latest figures from the National Multifamily Housing Committee’s rental tracker.
In the first week of April, just 69 percent of rent payments were made. But those numbers have improved significantly, according to the NMH, which compiles numbers from several national rental data firms, totaling 11.5 million apartment units nationwide.
By the second week of April, rent payment rose to 84 percent, compared to 90 percent at the same time last year. The data tracks the percentage of tenants who paid some portion of their rent.
Elizabeth Francisco, president of property management platform ResMan, attributed the lag in rent payments to the “shock and awe” of the coronavirus crisis. “There are a lot of factors that go into it — the flexibility of office staff and technology available for online payments contributed to an initial hesitation from consumers,” said Francisco, whose firm contributed to the data project.
Landlords had been bracing for a big rent shortfall in April, and although some have said their rents are down significantly, many others have been pleasantly surprised by the steady flow of checks.
That may change in May, as the unemployment rolls grow, and calls for rent strikes get louder.
The NMH numbers don’t break down rent payments by specific geographic areas. But Greg Willett, chief economist at RealPage, said the data his company provided revealed the biggest rent collection struggles were in New York and Louisiana, two places hit hardest by the virus.
“On the other hand, there were some states where the declines were pretty small, notably Arizona, Oregon, North Carolina and Texas,” Willett said. “And those states are very important, because there are a lot of renters.”