When paying the rent is too damn hard

A wave of late rent payments is another sign of how fast the economy cratered.


April 9, 2020

The rent came due, and the picture ain’t pretty.

New numbers released on Wednesday showed that nearly ⅓ of American apartment renters didn’t pay any rent during the first week of April.

Just 69% of tenants paid any of their rent in the first 5 days of the month, compared to 82% in the same period last year.

Jimmy McMillan had a point

The numbers are another sign of how far — and how quickly — the economy has cratered, with 10m Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits in the last 2 weeks of March.

The jobs crisis led to a crazy cash crunch for both renters and their landlords:

  • The head of CommonBond Properties, a nonprofit developer that manages affordable housing and has about 6k apartments in the Midwest, told The New York Times that she expected as many 40% of tenants to fall behind.

The feds — and local governments — are trying to help by easing eviction rules.

The $2T coronavirus relief package signed by President Trump last month suspended evictions for some federally subsidized housing and federally backed mortgages. But the Urban Institute estimated that just 28% of rental units were covered under the law.

Homeowner requests to delay mortgage payments are skyrocketing, and people are reporting trouble getting the help they were promised in the stimulus package.

Things aren’t much prettier at your local mall

Some retailers simply told their commercial landlords: no way, no how, no rent check, not this month. (If only it were so easy for the rest of us!)

Axios reported Wednesday that Staples was the latest big chain to refuse to pay rent. In late March, Subway, Mattress Firm, and others told their landlords not to expect a check.

Some landlords are taking it easy…

…like Walmart, which waived rents for businesses that operate within its Supercenters and Sam’s Clubs.

And some heroes don’t wear capes: Last week, a landlord in Brooklyn who manages 18 apartment buildings wiped away April rents for hundreds of tenants.

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