The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) has been tracking rent payments at more than 11 million professionally managed apartment units across the country. The most recent data from the NMHC Rent Tracker shows that 76.4% of renters made a full or partial rent payment as of September 6, 2020. This represents a 4.8 percentage point drop from the share making a rent payment at the same time last year.

There have been growing concerns that the end of the expanded federal unemployment benefits included as part of the CARES Act would have a major impact on renters who have faced job or income loss as a result of COVID-19 and the economic downturn. In turn, those renters were expected to have a harder time making their rent payments. The September figures from the NMHC Rent Tracker appear to demonstrate the increasing challenges renters—and their landlords—are facing.

As temporary furloughs are turning into long-term unemployment, the financial risks to renters and landlords are growing. New federal unemployment benefits are being made available, but the roll-out has been slow and in some states the extra funds are already exhausted. The eviction moratorium enacted by the Centers for Disease Control, which is intended to help renters, ultimately puts the rental housing sector at risk if there is no assistance available for housing providers.

The NMHC Rent Tracker figures represent a very large group of professionally managed rental apartments across the country; however, the Rent Tracker figures do not include many single-family or small multifamily rental properties that are less likely to be professionally managed and are more likely to have residents with at-risk wages. A recent Virginia REALTORS® survey found that more than half of landlords and property managers have tenants who are asking to delay paying their rent because of job or income loss.