Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Renter Households Not Caught Up on Rent Need Rental Assistance

Nearly 6 million renter households not caught up on rent need $3.4 billion in monthly rental assistance to avoid potential eviction

The eviction moratorium is slated to expire on June 30, 2021, but many renters are still struggling to pay rent, and need rental assistance of at least $3.4 billion to avoid potential eviction. There are 5.8 million renter households who were not caught up on rent as of May 2021. Nearly 60% of renter households not caught up on rent live in 1-to-4-unit properties that are typically run by mom-and-pop landlords. Nearly two thirds of renter households not caught up on rent earn less than $35,000 per year, with 54% of renters not caught up on rent being of minority (non-White only) race.

14.8% of renter households are not current on rent payment, the largest numbers in California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Georgia

There were 5.8 million renter households who were not current on their rent payment, accounting for 13.9% of the 41.9 million renter households (as of 2019 American Community Survey), based on a household level tabulation of the US Census Household Pulse Survey Week of April 28-May 10.

The largest number of renter households who were not caught up on rent as of May 2021 lived in California (900,737),  New York (562,729), Florida (499,805), Texas (415,876), and Georgia (242,522). These five states had 2.62 million renter households or 45% of the renter households who were not current on rent payment.

However, by share to renter population, the top five states with the highest fraction of renter households who are not caught up on rent were Mississippi (25.7%) , Maryland (22.8%), Louisiana (20.7%), Alaska (20.4%, and Florida (19.5%) where about 20% to 26% of renters are not caught up on rent.

52% of renters who are not caught up on rent have not worked in the past 7 days mostly for reasons beyond their control

Among renters who are not current on rent, 52% of renters 18 years old and over who were not caught up on rent had not worked at all in the past 7 days, according to the Household Pulse Survey.  The reasons respondents cited for being out of work were mainly related to factors beyond their control such as their employer going out of business, getting laid off, being furloughed, needing to stay at home to take care of a child who cannot go to school or day care, or being sick.

There are reports of workers not wanting to go to work because they are better off receiving unemployment insurance, but nationally, only 11% of workers cited “did not want to be employed at this time.”  However, a higher fraction was reported in states like West Virginia  (74%), New Mexico (41%),  and  California (25%).  

64% of renter households who are not caught up on rent earned less than $35,000 with unproportionate share of Black and Hispanic renter households

Renters who were not caught up on rent can be considered to be economically marginalized. Nearly two in three renter households who are not caught up on rent had household income below $35,000.

Nationally, 53.7% of renters who were not caught up on rent were of non-White race, which is disproportionately higher than the 22.1% share of minorities to the total population. Black Alone households make up 20.3% of the renter households in 2019 but  make up 35.5% of renters who are not caught up on rent. Hispanic households account for 19.7% of the renter households in 2019, but Hispanic renters accounted for 27.2% of renters not caught up on rent.1

3.4 million renter households who are not caught up on rent live in 1-to-4-unit home  which are mostly owned by mom-and-pop investors

Of the 5.8 million renter households were not caught up on rent, 3.4 million renter households (58.6% of renter households not caught up on rent) live in single-family, detached, single-family attached, a building with 2 apartments, and a building with 3 to 4 apartments.

By count, the largest number of renter households who are not caught up on rent and who live in 1-to-4 unit properties are found in California (451,286), Florida (288,895), New York (281,380), Texas (217,328), and Georgia (148,855).

As a share of the renter households, the states with the highest fractions of renter households who are not caught up on rent, at over 80% shares, were Vermont (98.1%), South Dakota (93.3%), Delaware (86.6%),  New Mexico (83%), Arizona (82%), and West Virginia (81%).

Single-family rentals are mainly owned and operated by mom-and-pop investors so rental assistance for renters is important so these mom and pop small landlords don’t to under which will only lead to a decrease in the supply of rental housing. According to the 2018 Rental Housing Finance Survey of the US Census Bureau, 73% of units in properties with 1 to 4 units were managed day-today by the property owner or unpaid agent of the property owner, or the “mom-and-pop” investors. These small business owners also need to pay mortgage (if any), utilities, maintenance, taxes, and other operating costs to keep the businesses in operation.

Monthly rental assistance of $3.4 billion (low estimate) to $6 billion (high estimate)

The Emergency Rental Assistance program provided for $46.55 billion in rental assistance2. However, this is just enough to pay for the back rent up through December 20203. So, additional rental assistance is needed to help pay for upcoming months’ rent.

The table below shows that  $3.4 billion rental assistance is needed monthly to help pay half of the rent of the 5.8 million renter households not caught up on rent payment (an ‘objective’ measure). The estimate assumes that renter households at least put up half of the rent4 and that the rental assistance will provide for the remaining half of the rent.

The low-end estimate of $3.4 billion— which is based on an “objective” measure (households who are not caught up on rent)―yields a rental collection rate of 93% compared to the total estimated rent of $48.5 billion monthly if all renter households fully paid rent. The low-end estimate is slightly lower than the 95% collection rate reported by the National Multifamily Housing Council which is based on 11.7 million units of professionally managed apartment units across the country which captures the upper end of the market. In the monthly survey Realtors® Confidence Index Surveys, the  median collection rate among managers responding to the survey5 was 95% although the average (mean) collection rate was lower at 80%.

Based on the low-end  ‘objective’ estimates, the states with the largest monthly rental assistance estimates are California ($731.6 million), New York ($370 million), Florida ($336.9 million), Texas ($236.5 million),  and Georgia ($140.1 million).

The table also shows a high-end estimate of $6 billion monthly based on 10.5 million renter households who have no or little confidence to pay next month’s rent (a ‘subjective’ measure). The fraction of renter households who report they have no or little confidence to pay rent is higher, at 24.9%, compared to the fraction of renter households who are not caught up on rent. The high-end yields a rental collection rate of 88% compared to the total estimated rent of $48.5 billion monthly if all renter households fully paid rent.


1 Note that I am switching comparisons between renter households and renters but the result regarding the disproportionate impact should still hold because of the large difference between the population share and share of renter households who are not caught up on rent).

2 U.S. Department of Treasury. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program had two components. ERA1 provides up to $25 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was enacted on December 27, 2020, and ERA2 provides up to $21.55 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was enacted on March 11, 2021. The funds are provided directly to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and (in the case of ERA1) Indian tribes. Grantees use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs; https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/emergency-rental-assistance-program

3 Moody’s Corp, Averting an Eviction Crisis. https://www.moodysanalytics.com/-/media/article/2021/averting-an-eviction-crisis.pdf

4 I estimate the median gross rent by inflating the 2019 median gross rent from the 2019 American Community Survey with the percent change in 2-bedroom rent from December 2019 through May 2021 based on state-level ApartmentList.com data.

5 The Realtors© Confidence Index Survey asks REALTORS® engaged in property management, “What percent of rent due from residential tenants were you able to collect in the past month?” The average percent collection rate reported by an average of 156 respondents every month since June 2020 through March 2021 was 78.5%. The median is 95.4%.

Advertisement

Comment Policy

The opinions expressed in reader comments sections on this website are those of the reader and not NAR or REALTOR® Magazine.

About Economists' Outlook

Visit this blog daily to see what NAR experts are saying about the economy, the housing market, and other factors that will impact your business.