Armageddon on hold: 88% of tenants paying rent

Survey of market-rate rentals comes as unemployment bonus nears end

Survey finds 87.6 percent of tenants paid some rent this month
Survey finds 87.6 percent of tenants paid some rent this month

With enhanced unemployment benefits set to expire this month, 87.6 percent of tenants paid some rent through July 13, according to a national survey of market-rate units.

The number of renters paying at least some of the month’s rent was only slightly lower than the 90.1 percent during the same period a year ago. It was also a bit shy of the month-ago figure, 89 percent.

The numbers suggest that actions by Congress and the Federal Reserve to inject trillions of dollars into Americans’ pockets has largely offset the effects of the pandemic on residential rent collection nationwide. However, the federal unemployment benefit supplement of $600 per week will end July 31 unless lawmakers vote to extend it.

The rent tracker, prepared by the National Multifamily Housing Council, surveys rental payments in 11.5 million market-rate, professionally managed apartments. The survey excludes low-income housing, subsidized units, single-family rentals, privatized military housing and student housing, where rent collection appears to have suffered more during the pandemic, according to industry reports.

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Doug Bibby, the housing council’s president, wrote that the enhanced unemployment benefits that will expire at the end of this month have been crucial to allowing renters to pay their bills.

“If action isn’t taken now we risk making the nation’s housing affordability challenges far worse, rolling back the initial economic recovery and putting tens of millions at risk of greater health and financial distress,” said Bibby.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than one in four workers have applied for unemployment assistance. State benefits would continue.

In a weekly survey conducted by the U.S. Census, 12 percent of renters polled said they had no confidence in their ability to pay next month’s rent. Another 18 percent answered that they only had slight confidence.