Over 87% of Dallas-Fort Worth apartment renters made their September payments

Christel Deskins

With the halt in federal unemployment payments, the share of apartment renters who aren’t making their monthly payments has risen significantly. As of last week, 76.4% of U.S. apartment renters had made their September payments. That’s almost five percentage points less than a year ago and more missed rent payments […]

With the halt in federal unemployment payments, the share of apartment renters who aren’t making their monthly payments has risen significantly.

As of last week, 76.4% of U.S. apartment renters had made their September payments. That’s almost five percentage points less than a year ago and more missed rent payments than earlier in the pandemic.

But in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a much larger share of apartment renters — more than 87% — had made their September payments as of late last week, according to Richardson-based RealPage. A year ago, over 90% of D-FW renters were keeping up with their payments.

Apartment landlords had warned that the share of skipped and late rent payments would rise when federally funded unemployment benefits ended in July.

The National Multifamily Housing Council, which represents more than 11 million apartment units across the country, surveys landlords each month to track payments.

Early in the pandemic, renters were having a better time keeping up with payments, despite growing nationwide job losses. In the first weeks of May and June, over 80% of apartment owners surveyed by the housing council said their tenants had paid rent for the month.

“The initial rent payment figures from September have begun to demonstrate the increasing challenges apartment residents are facing,” Doug Bibby, president of the Washington, D.C.-based trade group, said in the report. “Falling rent payments mean that apartment owners and operators will increasingly have difficulty meeting their mortgages, paying their taxes and utilities, and meeting payroll.

“The enactment of a nationwide eviction moratorium last week did nothing to help renters or alleviate the financial distress they are facing,” he said. “Instead, it only is a stopgap measure that puts the entire housing finance system at jeopardy and saddles apartment residents with untenable levels of debt.”

With millions of Americans thrown out of work because of the pandemic, apartment owners have been expecting a surge in vacancies and missed rent payments.

In Dallas-Fort Worth, more than 150,000 fewer jobs were counted in July compared with a year earlier, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting recession.

The decline in September rent payments could be due in part to the Labor Day holiday, said RealPage market analyst Adam Couch.

“Holidays that occur around the time that rent is due tend to disrupt collections to some degree,” Couch said. “As a result, some of the weakness in early September payments may reflect where Labor Day fell on the calendar.

“However, increasing financial stress among renters also appears likely to have had some influence on the payment levels,” he said. “Most who are now unemployed only received state-level benefits that average between $300 and $400 per week, which is well under what was received from the CARES Act.”

Couch said there are particular concerns about payment shortfalls in older, more affordable apartments, “since residents of those communities tend to live paycheck to paycheck.”

The share of nationwide apartment renters that are missing payments has grown as the pandemic drags on.
The share of nationwide apartment renters that are missing payments has grown as the pandemic drags on.(National Multifamily Housing Council)

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