April rent not paid by nearly a third of US apartment tenants

Residents owed roughly $40 billion in rent in April

Nearly a third of apartment tenants in the U.S. did not pay any of their April rent during the first week of the month as the coronavirus pandemic brings about a new economic reality for Americans, according to data released on Wednesday.

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Only 69 percent of tenants paid any of their rent between April 1 and 5, compared with 81 percent in the first week of March and 82 percent in April 2019, according to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council and a group of real-estate data providers.

The count includes renters who only made partial payments, NMHC, a landlord trade group, said. The data does not include renters who may still pay later this month, and does not count paperless payments over the weekend.

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The number reflects data from 13.4 million rental apartments across the country analyzed by several real-estate data firms, including RealPage, Yardi and ResMan. It does not include public housing and other subsidized affordable housing or single-family homes.

A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads "Rent Strike" April 1 in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Associated Press)

Residents owed roughly $40 billion in rent in April, according to Slate. In December 2019, the median rent in the country for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,343.

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To dull the economic pain, some city and state governments — California, Pennsylvania and New York among them — have put moratoriums on evictions of both residential and commercial tenants.

In the final two weeks of March, nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits -- trouncing the level of jobless claims seen during the 2008 financial crisis. It’s a stunning sign of the depth of the economic damage inflicted by the outbreak. Estimates vary drastically for how high unemployment will eventually climb, but economists broadly agree that it will be grim.

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Underscoring the problem, about 12 percent of Americans have said they are unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense, while 27 percent said they would need to borrow money or sell something in order to be able to do so, according to a recent Federal Reserve study.

Although the $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress at the end of March included cash checks of up to $1,200 for adults who earn less than $99,000, and $500 for each child, the money is not expected to go out until next Friday. The stimulus package also expanded unemployment benefits by $600 a week and broadened the program to cover additional workers, although Americans likely will have to wait a little bit longer to receive the extra cash.

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The federal funds promised to states to enhance the unemployment benefits are expected to be distributed this week. Many states are withholding the extra $600 payments until they receive the federal cash.

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