A new survey shows 32 percent of renters had pandemic-rent debt from previous months still due in the first week of September, but that number had dropped to 10 percent by the second week of the month, according to Apartment List.
“Renters continue to struggle to make housing payments. This month, we found 10 percent of renters failed to make their full August payment by the end of the month, and one in six started September owing about $1,000 in missed rent,” the survey said.
“While our first-week non-payment rate came in at 32 percent, most of these are made up with late payments throughout the remainder of the month,” said Chris Salviati, Housing Economist for Apartment List. He said non-payment of rent is less prevalent in large multifamily buildings.
Many still struggling to catch up on pandemic rent debt from prior months
“Despite the slight improvement in September payments, many renters are still worried about unpaid rent obligations from prior months.
“One-in-three renters started September with outstanding back rent owed, nearly unchanged from August. Among those with unpaid rent bills, close to half owe their landlords less than $1,000, while just five percent of all renters owe more than $2,000.
“These results indicate that another round of stimulus payments of a scale similar to those that went out earlier this year could help a significant share of renters catch up on their rent,” the report said.
Rent struggles illuminate racial disparities
The pandemic has exacerbated long-standing concerns around financial instability and housing insecurity.
“These challenges, however, have not affected all segments of the population evenly. Segmenting our survey data by race illuminates significant variation in the prevalence of unpaid housing bills.
“The share of white renters with unpaid rent is well below the overall rate at 24 percent. Meanwhile, black and Hispanic renters are far more likely to owe unpaid rent, with rates of 48 percent and 41 percent, respectively,” the report says.
With less discretionary spending to cut and fewer savings to draw on, these households are more likely to turn to other sources. Black respondents are most likely to have borrowed money from family or friends (28 percent compared to the overall rate of 18 percent) and Hispanic respondents are most likely to have sold assets (23 percent compared to 16 percent overall).
Pandemic Rent Debt Conclusion
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt all aspects of daily life, making housing payments remains a struggle for a startlingly high share of Americans.
Although this month’s data represents a slight improvement, nearly one in three survey respondents started this month with unpaid rent or mortgage owed from a prior month. In order to meet their financial obligations amid heightened economic uncertainty, renters and homeowners alike are making a variety of financial sacrifices as a direct result of the pandemic.
“Although the CDC’s recent pause on evictions has delayed the worst outcomes, missed housing payments remain a major concern in today’s economy,” Apartment List says in the report.