A Profile of the Surprisingly Large Number of Renters Behind on Payments
This article is published by GlobeSt.com and authored by Erik Sherman.
Weekly Census data suggests rocky waters for multifamily operators.
Since early in the pandemic, the Census Bureau has run an experimental frequent series of how households were faring, called the Household Pulse Survey. The latest information for the first half of June has some disquieting implications.
The largest is that approximately 13.9% of respondents who rent and answered said that they weren’t currently caught up with rent payments. Another 5.2% said they were occupying premises without paying rent.
Half of the group of responding renters said their rent had gone up within the previous 12 months, as might be expected as the potential for rent increases have been one of the drivers of increased investor interest, rising property prices, and cap rate compression.
Whether people had applied for financial assistance had a significant impact on payments. About 13.7% of renters had applied for assistance. Of those, 23% were not caught up on rent payments. About 70% of those who had applied and had not yet heard were behind, while 52% who applied and were denied had yet to catch up.
The more people in the household, the greater a chance they were behind. For single people, the percentage not current on rent was 8.9%. That increased to five-person households, where the percentage was 20.8%. Then it dropped again, to 19.5% at six people and 18.3% for seven or more.
There was another correlation—to household income. At less than $25,000 a year for household income, 19.4% were behind. From $25,000 to $34,999, it was 21.1%. Then 14.5% from $35,000 to $49,999. From there, numbers steadily dropped as income grew, as might be expected given that higher incomes mean greater financial resources to meet obligations.
Many homeowners were in danger of losing their home within two months due to foreclosure. Of about 5.3 million homeowners, 20.8% reported being “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to leave because of foreclosure.
About 13.4% of respondents reported that either they or someone else in their household had lost employment income within the previous four weeks.
The results have to be disturbing to many in multifamily, although it’s dangerous to assume dependable accuracy. The Census Bureau offers repeated warnings that it can be misleading to depend strongly on this data, as it is experimental. For example, according to the extrapolations, 40.5% of respondents said they had not worked in the previous seven days, which seems extraordinary given a reported 3.6% unemployment rate. But the population figures in these experimental numbers are expanded without consideration of labor force participation, the most recent of which was 62.2%, which would translate into approximately a 40% total unemployment rate between the 3.6% of employed and the 37.8% not in the labor force and so not working.