One-Third of American Renters Impacted by COVID-19 Did Not Pay Rent in April: Report

The novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has seen nearly 30 percent of Americans not pay their rent through April 5 due to the impact of the pandemic. Around 69 percent made their rent payment through the same period, according to a report from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC).

The NMHC’s review of data collected from 13.4 million apartment units in the U.S. revealed a 12 percent decrease in the number of apartment households that paid rent, compared with last month, which saw 81 percent pay their rent through March 5. Around 82 percent were reported to have paid rent around the same time last year, NMHC reports.

“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 the president of NMHC, Doug Bibby.

“However, it is important to note that a large number of residents met their obligations despite unparalleled circumstances, and we will see that figure increase over the coming weeks. That is a testament to the quick, proactive actions taken by NMHC members who put forward bold solutions,” Bibby said.

Last month, the NMHC urged the government to provide assistance to renters in America by halting evictions for 90 days for those who can show they have been financially impacted by the pandemic and stopping rent increases for 90 days as residents cope with the crisis.

Other proposed measures included creating payment plans for those unable to pay their rent due to the financial impact of the outbreak and waiving late payment fees.

The council also said in a statement last month: “Congress must extend mortgage forbearance to rental property owners and extend similar protections to other financial obligations such as insurance premiums, utility service payments and tax liabilities.

“If residents cannot pay their full rent obligations because of the COVID-19 outbreak then owners are at risk of not meeting their own financial obligations. This puts the individual property and the larger community in which it is located at risk.

“Forbearance is needed to prevent foreclosure and other adverse actions such as lien placements, utility shut offs, defaults, and judgements that would negatively impact the viability of the property’s continued operation and ultimately put its residents at risk of additional disruption,” the NMHC said in the statement.

Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the Rent Guidelines Board, which establishes payment adjustments for New York’s one million rent-stabilized dwelling units, to freeze rent for tenants struggling to make payments following the outbreak.

De Blasio said at a press conference on Friday: “If a tenant has no money, he has no money.”

“We need a rent freeze. I am calling on the Rent Guidelines Board to freeze rents for all regulated apartments. I’m also asking the State to allow New Yorkers to pay rent with their security deposit. I want to see them act quickly,” de Blasio said in a post on his official Twitter account.

In a statement provided to WABC-TV Friday, the group representing the landlords of rent-controlled apartments throughout the five New York City boroughs said: “Enacting another rent freeze will only expedite the deterioration of the City’s aging housing stock, and will do nothing to aid tenants that are already struggling to pay the rent in the midst of this crisis.”

Last month, state lawmakers in New York and California called on the country to freeze and forgive rent payments, demanding a 90-day or three-month moratorium in tenants paying rent to landlords.

Family wearing masks in NYC April 2020
A family wearing protective masks maintain while speaking to someone inside an apartment on April 5, 2020 in New York City. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises.
Getty Images

New York State Senator Mike Gianaris proposed Senate Bill 8125A to suspend rent payments for small businesses and tenants who have either had their paychecks eliminated or reduced because of quarantine measures.

The COVID-19 virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, has spread to more than 1.7 million people across at least 185 countries and regions. Over 409,000 have recovered while more than 109,600 have died, as of Sunday.

The U.S. is the current epicenter of the outbreak, which has affected over 530,000 people in the country, as of Sunday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S.

Statista
This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world as of April 9.
Statista

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

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