Apartment rental payments are holding up fairly well—at least for now.
The National Multifamily Housing Council reported that 79.3 percent of surveyed households made a full or partial rent payment by August 6. That’s slightly better than last month’s 77.4 percent, and just shy of the August 2019 level of 81.2, according to NMHC’s Rent Payment Tracker.
“Over the past few months apartment residents have largely been able to meet their housing obligations,” NMHC Chair David Schwartz said in a written statement.
“In no small part, this is due to the enhanced unemployment benefits enacted under the CARES Act and significant steps by apartment owners and operators to help their residents,” said Schwartz, who’s also chair and CEO of Chicago-based Waterman. “These unemployment benefits that have proven so important to so many households have now lapsed, meaning greater financial distress for millions and the potential worsening of America’s housing affordability crisis.”
The Rent Tracker covers 11.4 million units of professionally managed apartments across the country of varying size and rental prices.
Walt Smith, CEO of Seattle-based Avenue5, said on an August 10 webinar accompanying the Rent Tracker that most of the market stress has been on the more upscale end of apartment segment during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those renters who lost their jobs, even enhanced unemployment benefits aren’t covering their income needs. Occupancy in some gateway international cities such as Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami has sagged several percentage points during the traditionally strong summer leasing season, reflecting “unparalleled stress” in that segment, Smith said.
“That is in my view a portent of what could happen” across all economic levels if further income support isn’t forthcoming for the unemployed, Smith said.
NMHC is urging the Trump administration and Congress restart negotiations on a new COVID-19 relief package. “It is critical lawmakers take urgent action to support and protect apartment residents and property owners through an extension of the benefits as well as targeted rental assistance,” Schwartz said in his statement. “That support, not a broad-based eviction moratorium, will keep families safely and securely housed as the nation continues to recover from the pandemic.”
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