New Entrata Study Examines American Renter Behavior During the Pandemic

Entrata has released the results of its Renters on the Move survey, which aims to capture how the COVID-19 pandemic affected American renters’ decisions about their living situations—including how much space they lived in, how much they paid for it, and priorities around location and amenities.

“2020 was a life-changing year for people, industries, and businesses across the globe,” says Chase Harrington, Entrata’s president and chief operating officer. “Our survey of U.S. renters shows that many moved to larger spaces to accommodate work from home needs, moved back to hometowns, and some even moved to the city to take advantage of lower rental rates. We’re seeing a shift in the industry as renters look for more flexible leasing options and think differently about apartment amenities.”

Out of the American renters who participated in the survey, nearly 22% had moved to a larger apartment with more space between March 2020 and March 2021. Another 56% were planning to make a move post-pandemic, and 14% of Gen Z respondents said they had moved in back in with their parents. Main reasons cited for currently renting instead of owning include an inability to afford a down payment (39%) and the expense of homeownership (33%).

Depending on circumstances, many renters are either moving from the city to the suburbs or vice versa. The top reasons given for moving within the last year included the cost of rent (27%), a desire for more space (24%), needing a change of pace (18%), and the COVID-19 pandemic (16%). One-third of renters who had moved in the last year said their move is short term, while 61% said they expect their move to last for more than a year.

More than half of renters who moved reported that COVID-19 directly made their moving experience more difficult. Top hardships included difficulty finding units within the renter’s price range (24%), family and friends unable to help with moving (20%), and an inability to tour rental units (18%).

Nearly half of all renters—47%—switched to month-to-month payments. Of those who did, 42% said the pandemic affected their rent rates, and 34% said their rates rose.

Sixty-one percent of renters reported that their property has closed or restricted access to amenities due to COVID-19. Of that number, only 14% said their rent had decreased as a result, while 79% said they believe their rent should have decreased. Only 12% said amenities are a “make-or-break” decision for renting, while 45% reported that they will ultimately choose an apartment based on location or price.

The full survey summary is available here.

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