Paying Rent During the Pandemic

Renter Survey

Following local property management surveys over the past couple of months that show a majority of tenants staying current on rents, we realized a piece of information was missing. The rent survey is against a backdrop of most households having received some form of Federal assistance in the form of a stimulus check and/or enhanced unemployment via the CARES Act. With the unemployment boost ending at the end of July and the Governor's executive order prohibiting evictions set to expire on July 13, there is a lot of concern about what this portends for renters in August and beyond.

HousingLink decided to step into this from the renters' perspective to get not only at "are you staying current on rent?" but into questions such as:

  • "How important has your stimulus check or unemployment boost been in helping you pay your rent since April?" and
  • "Knowing that the Federal Government’s $600/week unemployment insurance ends on July 31, how do things look for you after that if there is not more assistance provided?"
We received responses from 926 renters who affirmed our concerns about the precarious situation in which most low- to moderate-income renters find themselves. Here are a few findings:
  • Those staying current on rent have fallen from 91% to 72%.
  • An alarming 70% of those already employed have lost their job or hours during the pandemic, with only 20% of those expecting to be back to working at full capacity by July 31.
  • 26% of respondents do not believe they will be able to continue paying rent after July 31. This does not include those who will be able to pay rent but at the expense of other bills.

These survey results are painting the picture of lower-income renters. 90% of households with active HousingLink renter accounts make under $44,000/year. These are the the households most likely to be paying rent on a check-to-check basis, and as these survey results show, they have been hard-hit by loss of work and hours.

Landlord Survey

Recent surveys of larger property management companies have suggested that a majority of tenants have remained current on monthly rent payments. To provide the additional additional market context of "shadow market" properties including single-family and duplex rentals, HousingLink conducted a survey of one-to-four unit property landlords, asking the number of units with rent six days late as of the sixth of the month, and rent 30 days late as of the sixth of the month.

We asked landlords to give us that figure for each month from March through July of 2020, and received 108 responses. Notably:

  • Rents 6 days have have gone from 9% of all units in March to 21% in July.
  • Rents 30 days late have gone from  7% of all units in March to 10% in July.

It is important to recall that these findings are against the backdrop of renter assistance in the form of the Federal CARES Act stimulus checks and unemployment assistance (the former of which was a one-time payment, and the latter of which ends at the end of July). 26% of the respondents to our renter survey do not believe they will be able to continue paying rent after July 31 without further assistance.

Questions about the data?

Dan Hylton
Research Manager
HousingLink
dhylton@housinglink.org

Media Inquiries

Sue Speakman-Gomez
President
HousingLink
sgomez@housinglink.org

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