The majority of tenants paid rent in April, that according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker.
The survey results show 89% of apartment tenants made full or partial rent payments by April 19, with a significant uptick for the week of April 13-19. As of April 26, 92% of apartment renter households had made some sort of payment for the month.
Overall, that’s good news for landlords who feared more tenants would default. By contrast, last year at this time, 93% of renters paid rent in part or in full.
The survey reached 11.5 million professionally managed apartment units across the country, including a wide range of market-rate rental properties, which can vary by size, type and average rental price.
“It is encouraging that apartment residents continue to meet their rent obligations whether that’s with the support of the federal relief funds, credit cards and alternative, flexible options provided by the industry’s owners and operators,” said NMHC President Doug Bibby.
However, Bibby warns there could be bumps in the road ahead. Some renters may not qualify for government assistance and are using savings or credit cards to stay in their units, something they won’t be able to sustain for long. Others may be facing mounting health care costs. “Lawmakers need to act now to enact a direct renter assistance program,” he adds.
Currently, landlords are waiting to see the impact of a national tenant advocacy movement to withhold rent for the month of May, a move that Bibby calls reckless. Capitalizing on eviction moratoriums put into place by many states, these groups are pushing for a “rent strike” to bring attention to the lack of affordability in the rental housing market. Whether individual tenants take that risk — and face an inevitable onslaught of evictions over the summer — is yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, landlords need to remain diligent in their efforts to secure rent payments going forward. Payments plans may need to be adjusted month-to-month as tenant’s navigate their financial difficulties.
Landlords can make this process a little easier by keeping open clear lines of communication. Many states have included a prohibition against late fees or rent increases at this time, so more is to be gained by cooperation than conflict.
Invoice tenants ten days before the due date, when they are mulling over their budgets. This is especially important if the tenant is on a temporary payment plan and could use some help keeping track.
Make it easy to pay rent by accepting multiple methods of payment. Don’t require tenants to pay with cash, cashier’s checks, or money orders that require tenants to visit the bank or grocery store, and don’t require tenants to pay in person. Some property management companies report success by temporarily absorbing credit card transaction fees.
Also, deposit rent checks as soon as they are received. Don’t discourage good tenants who are doing their best to get the rent there on time. One tenant complained that, after wading through hours of bureaucratic red tape to receive CARE funds to pay rent, the landlord sat on the payment and failed to note it in the rent payment software. To add insult to injury, the unrecorded payment automatically generated a late fee.
Find more information, including the methodology, on the NMHC Rent Payment Tracker here. The NMHC Rent Payment Tracker is powered by Entrata, MRI Software, RealPage, ResMan and Yardi.
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The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.