Check out this article about how renters are being affected by the Coronavirus.
Only 69% of apartment households in the U.S. paid their monthly rent by April 5, falling by 12% from the collection rate recorded a month ago, according to data released by the National Multifamily Housing Council Wednesday.
The percentage of households that have paid their April rent also fell 13% from the same date in 2019, NMHC said.
This could be taken as indication the coronavirus has severely impacted about one-third of renters, rendering them unable to pay rent, and headlines around the world have focused on this discrepancy.
However, comparing the new data for April with historical data is not a true representation of how rent payments are progressing, NMHC Vice President of Research Caitlin Walter noted during a webinar update on Wednesday.
Crucially, April 5 was a Sunday. With banks closed and leasing offices unable to process checks, those payments may not appear in the data until April 6 or later.
Many leasing offices are also physically closed at this time, making it tougher for some tenants to pay rent if there is not an online payment portal option.
Multifamily owners and operators have been bracing for a loss of rent payments and a slowdown in leasing activity this month, reflecting the widespread economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The NMHC Rent Payment Tracker is powered by five data firms: Entrata, MRI Software, RealPage, ResMan and Yardi Systems. The tracker reflects data from 13.4 million units across the country, and is updated on a weekly basis.
Yardi Systems Vice President Jeff Adler said that if April 6 data is included, the number of households that have not yet paid rent this month fell substantially. As a result, next week’s tracker data release could show a meaningful change in the numbers.
Adler told Bisnow the collection discrepancy from March falls from 12% to the high single digits when you include April 6 to account for the “Sunday effect.”
The tracker’s percentages are based on the total occupied units, excluding vacant units. Purpose-built student housing, privatized military housing and subsidized affordable units are not included in the data.
RealPage Chief Economist Greg Willett said that while it is still very early in the month, the data indicates a larger slowdown in April rent payments for Class-C product.
Those households are considered more vulnerable to an interruption of income, and also have a harder time paying rent if payments cannot be made face to face, Willett said.
Some multifamily operators are implementing payment plans, which may also affect the data. Partial payments are counted only once monthly, during the first time period in which it occurs. Subsequent payments that month would not be captured in the data, the NMHC said.