Despite the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, most tenants continue to pay their apartment rents on time. But there’s no guarantee that this won’t change if Congress doesn’t provide more financial support to renters.
That’s the takeaway from the latest Rent Payment Tracker survey released by the National Multifamily Housing Council.
The council found that 80.8 percent of apartment households made a full or partial rent payment by June 6. The council surveyed 11.5 million professionally managed apartment units across the country for its June report.
The figure, though, does represent a small drop from a year ago. According to the multifamily council, the percent of renters who made at least a partial payment by June 6 was down 0.7 percent from the same date a year earlier.
The figure does represent a small increase from May 6. The council found that 80.2 percent of renters had made a full or partial rent payment by that date.
“These are trying times for the country, and we are reminded on a regular basis how crucial safe and secure housing is during a period of uncertainty and upheaval,” said Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council. “We are glad to see that residents continue to pay their rent.”
Bibby, though, said that there are troubling signs for some renters. He pointed to a study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies showing that nearly a fifth of households with at-risk wages in small multifamily apartments might struggle to pay their rent.
He also cited another alarming figure: 32 percent of renter respondents to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported no or only slight confidence in their ability to pay next month’s apartment rent.
Bibby said that Congress needs to pass a direct rental assistance program and extend enhanced unemployment benefits. The enhanced unemployment benefits that Congress passed earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic are set to expire July 31.
David Schwartz, chairman of the National Multifamily Housing Council, said that more renters will struggle to meet their financial obligations of these benefits aren’t extended.
“Unless policymakers move to extend them, the families and individuals relying on them will find themselves without a safety net, undercutting the initial economic recovery. We urge lawmakers in both parties to continue to sustain and support Americans as our nation and the economy begin to recover.”