The percentage of U.S. citizens who paid rent this month was down 12 points, from 82 percent in March to 69 now, as a result of the economic disruption from the coronavirus, according to a housing survey released Wednesday (April 8).
The numbers, from a survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council, are a sign of just how American life will be changing in the coming months due to mass job losses and shutdowns because of the virus.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in significant health and financial challenges for apartment residents and multifamily owners, operators and employees in communities across the country,” said NMHC President Doug Bibby in a statement. The NMHC Rent Payment Tracker reflects data from 13.4 million units across the United States.
While there was no geographical breakdown for the numbers, the NMHC noted that areas like Las Vegas and Orlando, which heavily depend on tourism, were suffering worst because of the breakdown of those industries.
David Schwartz, NMHC chairman and chief executive of Chicago-based property company Waterton, which has a $6.5bn multifamily portfolio spread across 15 states, told the Financial Times the situation was staggering in its magnitude, and said the problems would spread across every status of homeownership. He said those who have high vacancies would struggle to fill them, and those with high leverage would have trouble servicing it.
Multifamily housing, which can encompass everything from high-end private equity firms to smaller clusters of family-owned complexes, has been popular lately as a way to offset the housing shortage in the U.S. But the usual wisdom that these complexes can survive downturns has been tested by the rapid speed of the virus' spread.
In related news, the number of people asking for more time to pay mortgages has also gone up sharply.