A 'Staggering' Number Tied to the Virus

Data on 13.4M apartment rentals shows 31% of tenants hadn't paid as of Sunday
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2020 10:50 AM CDT
Rent Payments Are Way Down
A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads "Rent Strike" on April 1 in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A lot of Americans failed to pay rent this month. As of Sunday, nearly a third of US apartment renters hadn't paid any amount of their rent, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing data from 13.4 million rental apartments, excluding single-family homes and subsidized affordable housing. Just 69% of tenants had contributed funds by Sunday, according to the data published Wednesday by the National Multifamily Housing Council. The figure may not account for electronic payments made over the weekend, and renters may pay later in the month. Still, the figure represents a huge increase from the first week of March, when 81% of renters paid at least some of the amount owed for rent. The figure was about the same, 82%, in the first week of April 2019.

In a statement, NMHC President Doug Bibby stressed that "a large number of residents met their obligations despite unparalleled circumstances" that brought "significant health and financial challenges." However, Chairman David Schwartz tells the Financial Times that the figure is "staggering." He adds owners are likely to face hardships if the trouble continues into May and June. "The renters aren't paying the landlords, the landlords aren't paying the bank, and the bank is hoping the government will bail them out," one developer tells the Times. Per the Journal, the Washington-based think tank Urban Institute estimates that "less than one-third of US rental units are federally financed and covered by protections in last month's stimulus package." (Read more rent stories.)

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