According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s weekly Rent Payment Tracker, 79.3% of apartment households have made a full or partial rent payment by Aug. 6, based on a survey of 11.4 million professionally managed apartment units across the country.
This marks a 1.9 percentage point, or 223,000-household, decrease from the share of households who paid rent through Aug. 6, 2019. Over the same time period last month, 77.4% of renters paid their rent through July 6, 2020.
“Over the past few months apartment residents have largely been able to meet their housing obligations. 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. 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,” says David Schwartz, NMHC chair and CEO and chairman of Chicago-based Waterton.
In this week’s NMHC Rent Payment Tracker update webinar, Jeff Adler, vice president at Yardi Matrix, notes that while rent payments are holding up at the start of August, they have likely been bolstered by cash buildup over the course of the expanded unemployment benefit period. However, the stress of a potential loss of payments is building, particularly for higher-end apartment properties in the most expensive markets where benefit payments cover a smaller portion of living expenses.
Availability in the top 15% to 20% most expensive units is up 25% to 27% relative to the beginning of the pandemic, Adler says. Renewals in the largest cities are down approximately 10%, with Manhattan as an outlier at 30%. “The health of our market is really tied to consumer confidence and [the consumer’s] individual employment status,” adds Elizabeth Francisco, president of ResMan.
When asked about assistance for renters, the webinar’s panelists agree that government benefits have been “critical” in keeping the multifamily industry stable.
“NMHC continues to urge the Trump administration and congressional leaders to restart negotiations and reach a comprehensive agreement on the next COVID relief package,” Schwartz says. “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. 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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