Early April sees 15% drop in rent-paying nationwide: report

Just 69% of tenants paid something in the month’s first five days

The drop occurred after a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. (Credit: photo by Victor J. Blue/Getty Images; iStock)
The drop occurred after a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. (Credit: photo by Victor J. Blue/Getty Images; iStock)

Only 69 percent of tenants paid rent in the first five days of April — a 12-point drop from the same period last month.

From March 1-5, some 81 percent of tenants paid at least some rent, and the figure was 82 percent in the initial days of April a year ago over the 13.4 million rental apartments tracked by several data firms, the National Multifamily Housing Council reported.

The council, despite the 15 percent monthly drop in the rate of rent-paying, put a positive spin on the findings, noting that “a large number” of tenants did pay. The figures were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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The drop occurred after a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. At least 42 states now have stay-at-home measures in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and an unprecedented chunk of the economy has been shut down.

As April 1 approached, rent strikes were being considered by some organizers and tenants, though some maintained that they were targeting not landlords but elected officials for relief. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he doesn’t plan on forgiving rent payments but would see where things stand when a 90-day ban on evictions ends.

Earlier in March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to pursue a rent moratorium for tenants and small businesses, but nothing has come of that.

The U.S. government has committed to deferring payments on federally backed mortgages for apartment building owners on the condition that no renters be evicted during the period. Homeowners who have federally backed mortgages have also been given a six-month grace period without penalties for non-payment. [WSJ] — Erin Hudson