Residential tenants paying rent (or maybe not)

David Goldsmith

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Too many vacant apartments with no one to rent them. Adding more vacancy through eviction most likely would worsen the situation we've already been dealing with. I currently have 85% of a particular rental listings portfolio "unlisted" through strategic advertising and converting so what everyone sees on Streeteasy is not the whole picture!! Unless we've already reached a saturation point where going to 100000 vacancies won't change anything, but I doubt that would be the case.
That's exactly why I've been cautioning both here and elsewhere ( that celebrating the "drop in vacancy rate from 6.14% to 5.52%" is likely a false flag since the real vacancy rate is likely substantially higher than that.


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That's exactly why I've been cautioning both here and elsewhere ( that celebrating the "drop in vacancy rate from 6.14% to 5.52%" is likely a false flag since the real vacancy rate is likely substantially higher than that.

I read that article and I was not convinced. I agree with you. To equate dropping vacancy rate with inbound migration is what I see as a false equivalence fallacy. We're nowhere near out of the woods yet and I'm going to need a lot more data than a drop in vacancy rate to convince me otherwise. I'm going to keep measuring the pulse of my market, but it's premature to say we're "recovering".

David Goldsmith

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Noah Rosenblatt

Talking Manhattan on
Staff member
Too many vacant apartments with no one to rent them. Adding more vacancy through eviction most likely would worsen the situation we've already been dealing with. I currently have 85% of a particular rental listings portfolio "unlisted" through strategic advertising and converting so what everyone sees on Streeteasy is not the whole picture!! Unless we've already reached a saturation point where going to 100000 vacancies won't change anything, but I doubt that would be the case.
I have heard similar stories to this with landlords holding low rise units across the city that are not counted in supply. True vacancy rate thrown out in some of these conversations is 20-25%...crazy.

David Goldsmith

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Multifamily landlords feel pain as tenants miss rent payments

Share of riskiest apartment debt held by banks rose to 17%​

Multifamily property owners fared better in the past year than those in other real estate sectors, but as the pandemic drags on, they’re increasingly facing issues with their loan payments.
The share of the riskiest apartment debt held by banks rose to 17 percent from 5 percent during the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from Trepp that looked at the risk ratings from more than a dozen banks.

Nearly a year after the pandemic began, landlords are feeling the pain from eviction moratoriums — including a proposed extension of the federal ban from the Biden administration — as well as a decline in rent collections. That’s leading some lenders and rating agencies re-evaluate things.

New York’s Chetrit family saw a $481 million securitized loan that backed 43 of its rental properties throughout the Midwest and the Sunbelt region marked as “at-risk” by KeyBank, the publication reported. The bank said that the property’s income wasn’t enough to cover its loan payments.
Rating agencies have also downgraded bonds attached other types of rental housing that were popular prior to the crisis, including senior housing, dorms and co-living companies.

Though some banks have backed away from lending to multifamily, some investors are finding a niche by giving struggling apartment owners high-interest financing.
Norfolk, Virginia-based Harbor Group International has raised about $245 million for a fund that can make a total of $900 million to $1 billion in loans, according to the Journal. The investment firm, with about $13 billion in assets under management, is providing financing for developers that stopped signing leases right as the pandemic started.

David Goldsmith

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These startups want to guarantee your rent​

Investors are backing companies that seek to address inefficiencies in rent collection​

As millions of Americans struggle to pay their rent on time, investors are betting on a crop of startups to help landlords get their money.
New companies such as Flex, Till and NestEgg have raised cash to put renters on flexible payment plans. Flex and NestEgg have gone as far as fronting monthly payments to landlords. And San Francisco-based rental marketplace Zumper followed suit this summer when it rolled out a rent guarantee for landlords. The companies make money by charging either the landlord or tenant a fee.

Since March 2020, Zumper has raised $60 million, Till has raised $8 million and NestEgg has raised $7 million from investors keen to address inefficiencies in rent collection, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Even if your tenants are paying you on time, you’re not getting money until the fifth or sixth of the month,” said Eachan Fletcher, a former Expedia CTO, who co-founded NestEgg in 2017. “That means the first week of each month for landlords is a mini cash-flow crisis.”

NestEgg, which raised its Series A in November 2020, is a lease management tool for landlords that provides a rent guarantee: The startup pays landlords on the first of the month and gives tenants flexible terms to repay their debt. Fletcher said NestEgg pays landlords using a $10 million line of credit; landlords pay $9 per unit, per month for the service, and the company doesn’t charge interest or fees to tenants.

But consumer advocates say there are inherent concerns with these models.
Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, called it a red flag when a tenant doesn’t have enough cash to pay full rent when it’s due. “What scares me is you’re sort of renting beyond your means,” he said.

Further, he said, renters who choose payment plans should read up on any contracts and terms: “What can the company do if [tenants] don’t make a payment? Are there penalties?”
Banking on flexibility

Even before Covid, landlords collected millions of dollars in late fees each month. But the economic toll of the pandemic made it harder for millions of renters to make ends meet.
In December 2020, rent payments for market-rate apartments fell to their lowest point since April, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. As of Jan. 5, 76.6 percent of households had made full or partial payments for the month. That was up slightly from December but 1.7 percentage points lower than a year ago.

And landlords these days have little recourse when tenants don’t pay. The national eviction moratorium runs through at least the end of January. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently extended a ban on evictions until May 1 for tenants who experience a Covid-related hardship.
“The pain points are real,” said Shragie Lichtenstein, founder and CEO of New York City-based Flex, which customizes rent-payment schedules for tenants. Flex, which launched in 2019 and raised a $5 million seed round, ensures landlords get paid on the first of the month by giving renters a line of credit with its bank partner. For $20 a month, tenants get a $2,000 loan to cover their rent.

According to Lichtenstein, the real estate industry has been slow to embrace technology, although that’s beginning to change. The pandemic, he said, has been a catalyst for companies like Flex that claim flexible pay schedules can help maximize a renter’s ability to pay in full.
Lichtenstein said Flex is structured in such a way that it doesn’t allow people to fall into debt. For instance, its bank partner does not approve every applicant.

“If someone has terrible credit, there’s a decent chance they will not be approved,” he said. “It’s not a solution built around $10,000-a-month rent folks. At the end of the day, we’re consumer-first.”
Zumper also has built-in constraints: Its rent guarantee is available in select cities, and the rent cannot exceed 110 percent of the market’s median rent. The tenant also must have a credit score of 650 or higher.

“At its core, we’re trying to help the property owner make sure they get their 12 months of rent,” Vishal Makhijani, Zumper’s president and COO told a San Francisco CBS affiliate in September 2020.
But David Sullivan, CEO of Till, a startup that develops custom payment schedules for renters, said there are downsides of offering credit lines to tenants. The startup used that model, before pivoting in early 2020.

“It’s similar to a payday loan structure,” he said. “It actually doesn’t help the renter.”
Till, which raised $8 million in August, says it is working with 35,000 tenants nationwide. It doesn’t offer a specific rent guarantee, but the company claims 99 percent of tenants who are on a flexible payment schedule pay on time.

For landlords, that can be a valuable lever to pull.
In September 2020, Asia Capital Real Estate — which owns 8,000 apartments in Florida, Georgia, the Midwest and the Carolinas — rolled out a flexible rent program through Till.
Melanie Gersper, ACRE’s chief operating officer, said working with tenants was the “right thing to do” from an ethical standpoint. But even if eviction were an option, pushing out a tenant makes little financial sense. She’d be left with a vacant unit that could be costly to re-rent, especially during a pandemic.

Working with tenants instead of against them, she said, “is the best path to sustaining [our business] and outliving this thing.”

David Goldsmith

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My guess is the same result as Business Interruption Insurance under COVID - They will happily collect premiums until there is some mass event and then "it doesn't cover that." Is some government agency holding them to having sufficient reserves to pay all the potential claims? I think I should open up "Dave's Flood Insurance" and just issue everyone who can't get it whatever policy they want.

Noah Rosenblatt

Talking Manhattan on
Staff member
My guess is the same result as Business Interruption Insurance under COVID - They will happily collect premiums until there is some mass event and then "it doesn't cover that." Is some government agency holding them to having sufficient reserves to pay all the potential claims? I think I should open up "Dave's Flood Insurance" and just issue everyone who can't get it whatever policy they want.
Buffet style?

David Goldsmith

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John Walkup

Talking Manhattan on
Tend to agree. One issue is data has no real oversight. The increasing number of interconnections means the lengthy/ignored 'terms and conditions' governs far more information than reasonably expected.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

A reckoning on rent​

Tenants owe landlords $57 billion. What happens when they don’t pay?​

Three of Petra Drauschak’s 14 tenants have abandoned their leases during the pandemic.
One had already stopped paying by February 2020, when Covid began sweeping across the U.S., but Drauschak’s hands were tied by Pennsylvania’s eviction ban. The tenant left in August without paying the remaining rent and arrears.
Tipped off by a neighbor, Drauschak followed the tenant to her ex-fiance’s house and successfully served her papers. A court awarded the landlord $12,000, but the tenant disappeared without settling the debt. Drauschak’s legal costs were $600.
The second tenant stopped paying when federal rental assistance became available in June. After Drauschak filed for an eviction, the renter applied for federal rent relief, and Drauschak was made whole with a check for $5,800.
The third tenant did not qualify for federal relief because undocumented immigrants are not eligible. Upon losing work at a landscaping company, the tenant was unable to pay rent for four months and was asked to leave.
“I said, ‘Listen, I can’t do this, this is a business,’” Drauschak recalled. It took her four more months to find a paying tenant.
“A lot of [undocumented people] are in a really tough position,” said Drauschak. “These people are truly screwed.”
With the pandemic causing billions of dollars in unpaid rent to pile up and sapping demand for rentals, a new dynamic has emerged between millions of tenants and their landlords.
Eviction bans and the weakening of the rental market have made landlords less inclined to play hardball when tenants miss payments or skip out on leases. But tenants face deterrents as well. Failure to pay can lead to legal troubles and garnished wages years later, not to mention lower credit scores and rejected applications for housing.

Peter Von Der Ahe, a top multifamily broker at Marcus & Millichap, said the unpaid rent will follow tenants long after they have given back the keys.
“If you sign a lease and don’t pay it, it’s like a telephone bill,” said Von Der Ahe. “Verizon will eventually find you, and you’ll have to pay it or you’ll never have a cellphone again.”

High stakes

Landlords who go after tenants for unpaid rent run the risk of incurring legal fees to win judgments that cannot be collected. Collection efforts can even trigger lawsuits against the property owner.
In a case this month, five renters at a Carnegie Management building in Bushwick sued the Brooklyn-based landlord, alleging it inflated the rental arrears it reported to collection agencies.
Dinging tenants’ credit for unpaid rent is not new, but the lawsuit claimed Carnegie had added late fees, violating a ban put in place by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the first six months of the pandemic. The tenants argued the fees were a punishment for organizing.
Carnegie Management principal Isaac Jacobowitz said his firm engaged the collection agency just as “any utility company” would for customers who skip payments. The strategy worked to recover rent in most cases, Jacobowitz said, because tenants do not want their unpaid balances reported to credit bureaus.
“People shouldn’t be left without a house,” Jacobowitz said. “But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have to pay.”
Another option for landlords is using the security deposit to cover unpaid rent, but that has its drawbacks. Typically, it is only one month’s rent, so it is quickly exhausted, leaving the landlord less recourse if the tenant damages the apartment or exits with unpaid rent.
Tapping security deposits can also spur tenants to file a complaint.
One who lived in one of Steve Croman’s East Village apartment buildings said the landlord did not return full security deposits to many who moved out during Covid.

She said the third-party company that manages the buildings “whittled down” her $3,995 security deposit to $1,645 for things like “teeny-tiny” nail holes — and then failed to return even the smaller amount after she moved out in April.
Speaking anonymously because the case is ongoing, the tenant said she and some of her former neighbors filed a complaint with New York Attorney General Letitia James. No money has been recovered. The management firm, an affiliate of Besen Partners, did not return a request for comment.

Eviction-proof tenants

Camden Property Trust, a real estate investment trust that controls nearly 60,000 apartments across the country, reported that revenue from its more than 2,100 apartments in Los Angeles and Orange counties was down 5 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter. Annual revenue fell more than 13 percent from the year before.
The problem, Camden CEO Ric Campo said, was not that tenants could not pay, but that they chose not to, taking advantage of eviction moratoriums and inspired by the “cancel rent” movement.
“They look at it as a free loan from Camden,” said Campo. ”But ultimately, they will have to pay or their credit will be destroyed.”
Most tenants, especially in market-rate apartments, have continued to pay rent. But financial problems have mounted for workers in industries hardest hit by the pandemic. In July, four months after shutdowns began, an advisory firm’s study calculated rent arrears at $21 billion nationally. As of January, Moody’s expected the number to be $57 billion, including utilities and late fees — an average of $5,600 across approximately 10 million delinquent households.
Those who don’t pay face a reckoning. Landlords in New York have six years to sue for back rent, said Shanna Tallarico, a consumer debt attorney at New York Legal Assistance Group. But she does not expect them to wait that long.
“Everyone is anticipating this flood of cases,” said Tallarico. “We are going to get so many calls soon — I can’t even fathom what it will look like in a year from now.”
One client, a tenant receiving federal Section 8 benefits, left her Bronx apartment in 2016 and relocated to North Carolina. In 2019, her bank account was suddenly frozen because of a default judgment won by her landlord, Genesis Realty Group, which filed a case more than two years after she moved out.
In March, the tenant drove to New York City to appear in court. One week before the courts shut down for Covid, a judge canceled the judgment. The case is now one of many in limbo as courts work through their backlogs.

No Covid discount

Suzanne Pichulik Eisenberg, a landlord in Decatur, Georgia, said she’s not negotiating a “Covid discount” with her tenants, and none has walked away yet. “I just wasn’t going to negotiate based on an anomaly,” said Eisenberg, who renewed leases at current levels. With vacations canceled, fewer date nights and no babysitting expenses, she is hoping her tenants are saving money for future increases.
Owners in her state have greater leverage than they do in New York. “It’s very different in Georgia,” Eisenberg noted, “because it is more landlord-friendly than tenant-friendly.”
In New York City, political victories by tenant advocacy groups and the pandemic-driven drop in demand for rentals have strengthened tenants’ hand. The state’s rent stabilization law enacted in 2019 increased penalties for rent overcharges, severely limited rent increases and took steps to eliminate the so-called tenant blacklist — Housing Court records used by landlords to screen applicants for apartments.
Adam Mermelstein, whose Treetop Development has 1,500 rent-stabilized units in the city, says the tenant movement’s gains have empowered renters to walk away from their agreements.
“We do find in New York City people break leases more so than in other places,” he said. “Up until recently that hasn’t been a problem, because rents always went up. But now when the tenant breaks the lease, it’s a big deal.”
Before Covid and the new rent law, owners of the city’s 900,000-plus rent-stabilized apartments relished vacancies because they allowed landlords to raise the rent up to 20 percent in a market with robust demand.
With those factors gone and Covid lingering, waging a legal battle with a tenant isn’t always worth it. In many cases, Mermelstein said, it’s better to negotiate a rent reduction, or let the tenant leave without paying all the remaining rent.
“More often than not, we work something out,” the landlord said. “We have to pick our battles.”

Noah Rosenblatt

Talking Manhattan on
Staff member
I feel like the current environment with stocks and banks make it feel like this wont be an issue..but should equities reverse course and banks take a cautous note, this will come home to roost in another wave down for this sector

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Lawmakers call for $2B in rent relief in state budget​

Assembly members also want rent debt forgiveness for tenants​

Lawmakers want Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to fight for automatic rent debt forgiveness and more money for rent relief in the state’s 2021 budget.
In a Feb. 11 letter, more than 30 Assembly members called on Heastie to push for the inclusion of $2.25 billion in rent relief in the 2021 state budget — a figure that includes already committed federal dollars and would require more funding from the state.

At the moment, the state is working out how to dispense $1.3 billion in federal rent relief. A recently amended bill lays out the framework, which would require tenants to apply for relief and demonstrate financial hardship.
The legislators who signed the letter, along with housing advocates, favor a different method of distributing aid: a program where tenant debt is automatically forgiven, and landlords must apply to the state for relief. The letter points to a measure proposed by Manhattan Assembly member Yuh-line Niou last July, which would cancel rent obligations and create a relief fund for struggling landlords. The letter asserts that lawmakers need to prioritize “rent-forgiveness for tenants, and providing much-needed relief to our mom-and-pop landlords — not bailing out Blackstone.”

“A landlord-hardship fund can ensure that mom-and-pop landlords and not-for-profit housing providers are prioritized for aid,” the letter states. “If we pursue a landlord-based approach, we will be able to assess which landlords must urgently be bailed out, and which companies have the reserves to weather the storm.”
A spokesperson for Heastie said the Speaker is reviewing the governor’s executive budget and plans to release the Assembly’s proposal next month.

The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is working with the state legislature as it awaits federal guidance on disbursing the $1.3 billion in aid, according to a spokesperson for the office.
“The aim is to craft a program that will support households experiencing financial hardship and are in rental arrears or are at risk of housing insecurity, with a priority given to the lowest-income households and individuals who are unemployed,” the spokesperson said.

The letter coincides with a broader push by housing advocates and lawmakers to cancel rent obligations and tax the state’s wealthiest to raise revenue. Sen. Michael Gianaris sent a similar letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January, calling for the inclusion of more than $2 billion for rent relief in the budget.
Though the proposal has allies in both chambers, including it in the budget may be an uphill battle for lawmakers. Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would need to back the change — and would need to convince Cuomo, who has not been supportive of the “cancel rent” campaign.

Budget negotiations will likely be even more tense this year, given the governor’s increasingly fraught relationship with legislators. Senate Democrats are moving to remove Cuomo’s emergency powers that were granted during the pandemic amid allegations that he intentionally withheld data on deaths in state nursing homes.
Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, issued a statement Thursday calling for the rent relief program to be divorced from the budget process. He said the governor and legislature should pass a separate appropriation.

“They can avoid delays in delivering desperately needed help to millions of struggling New Yorkers so they can pay their rent and landlords can pay their property taxes and repair and maintain their buildings for the safety and comfort of their tenants,” he said.
Cea Weaver of the Housing Justice for All coalition, which headed up the “cancel rent” campaign, said the Senate and Assembly leaders will likely be open to trying out a different rent relief method, given the trajectory of the state’s previous program. The state has still not distributed $60 million remaining from the $100 million set aside.

“I’m confident that they are comfortable doing something completely different,” she said.

David Goldsmith

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New York Renters in Covid Hot Spots Are Four Times More Likely to Face Eviction
An analysis of court data shows that the areas hit hardest by the virus, largely Black and Latino neighborhoods, have the most eviction cases.
New York City landlords are seeking evictions nearly four times more often in the neighborhoods hit hardest by Covid-19 — predominantly Black and Latino communities that have borne the brunt of both health and housing crises since the virus swept the city last year, according to a new report.
The findings are the latest indication that thousands of the city’s most vulnerable residents could be forcibly removed from their homes as early as May, when a statewide pause on evictions is set to expire.
In New York City, about 40,000 residential tenants have been taken to court for eviction proceedings since late March of 2020, with an average claim of $8,150, according to an analysis of state records by the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of housing nonprofits. (Despite a pause on many evictions, new cases continued to be filed.)


But the neighborhoods with the highest Covid-19 death rates, the top 25 percent, received 15,517 eviction filings, while areas with the lowest death rates, in the bottom 25 percent, had only 4,224 cases, through late February. Roughly 68 percent of residents in the hardest hit ZIP codes were people of color, more than twice the share in the least affected areas.
“When we talk about systemic racism, this is how it shows up,” said Lucy Block, the author of the report and a research and policy associate with the group. “It’s the scale to which landlords are still trying to evict people, and how much those evictions are concentrated in the same communities being decimated by Covid-19.”

Among the 10 ZIP codes with the highest rate of eviction filings, eight were in the Bronx, one was in Queens and the other was on Staten Island. The ZIP code 10468, which includes parts of Fordham, University Heights and Kingsbridge in the Bronx, topped the list, with 51 per 1,000 residential units involved in an eviction case. The analysis looked at properties with two or more units.

The hardest-hit neighborhoods were home to large numbers of essential workers, many of whom lost their jobs in the last year.
Marisol Morales, 55, moved to the United States from Panama in 1991, and has lived for 11 years in a two-bedroom apartment near the Concourse section of the Bronx. She said she lost her part-time job as a cook in a Brooklyn restaurant last April, and has been unable to pay her $1,647 rent, which is subsidized by Section 8 housing vouchers, for several months. She said she owes several thousands of dollars in back rent, and that her landlord is suing her in civil court, which could result in garnishment of her wages when she finds a new job. Other tenants in the building already have eviction cases pending.
She does not qualify for unemployment benefits, because she was paid in cash. Occasionally she has sold homemade tamales and empanadas to friends in other boroughs, but the orders are infrequent. Her adult daughter, who works in a hospital, has helped support her, but she has student loans to cover. She also has two sons serving in the military.
Problems in her six-story prewar building predate the pandemic, she said, with tenants claiming that the landlord neglected long needed repairs. Arun Perinbasekar, a lawyer for the landlord, said repairs are being made and are ongoing, and that reduced rent settlements have been offered to several tenants.
In March, as several residents lost their jobs, Ms. Morales and others stopped paying rent. But moving was out of the question.
Even though the coronavirus has sparked a year of record rent cuts, mostly on luxury apartments, 96 percent of market-rate rental listings in New York City are still unaffordable to a wide group of essential workers, who made an average salary of about $56,000, but often much less, according to the listing website StreetEasy.
“An affordable apartment does not exist in New York,” Ms. Morales said in Spanish, adding that she is hoping for government-led rent forgiveness, because her debt far exceeds what she can repay.
The eviction filings are likely an undercount, Ms. Block said. Across the state, there are more than 222,000 renters, including commercial tenants, with active eviction cases — more than the population of Rochester — and the data does not include filings for towns and villages, which report their numbers differently, she said. About 177,000 cases were filed before the pandemic, but a surge of new cases are possible when the moratorium ends.
Far more renters are teetering. As of December, as many as 1.2 million renters in New York State were at risk of eviction, meaning it was unlikely they could pay the next month’s rent, according to Stout, a financial consulting firm.
That calculus could change with the passage of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package. For New York State, the plan could include $2.3 billion in federal rental assistance, and up to $400 million in state support, said Malika Conner, the director of organizing for the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, an anti-eviction group.
The aid is welcome, she said, but much remains unclear about how and when the funds will be disbursed. “If there isn’t enough money put toward canceling rent, a couple of months from now, we’re going to be in the exact same position.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

NMHC: Rent Payment Tracker Shows Households Paying Rent Decreased 4.1% YoY in Early March​

From the NMHC: NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 80.4 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of March 6
The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)’s Rent Payment Tracker found 80.4 percent of apartment households made a full or partial rent payment by March 6 in its survey of 11.6 million units of professionally managed apartment units across the country.

This is a 4.1 percentage point, or 474,942 household decrease from the share who paid rent through March 6, 2020 and compares to 79.2 percent that had paid by February 6, 2021. This data encompasses a wide variety of market-rate rental properties across the United States, which can vary by size, type and average rental price.

“On behalf of the multifamily industry, we are deeply appreciative of how leaders in Congress and the Biden administration worked with us to develop legislation that will deliver direct financial support to those facing distress due to the pandemic,” said Doug Bibby, NMHC President.
emphasis added
NMHC Rent Tracker Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the NMHC Rent Payment Tracker shows the percent of household making full or partial rent payments by the 6th of the month compared to the same month the prior year.

This is mostly for large, professionally managed properties.

The second graph shows full month payments through February compared to the same month the prior year.

NMHC Rent Tracker This shows a decline in rent payments year-over-year, and somewhat more of a decline over the last several months.

CR Note: There are some timing issues month to month, but rent payments appear to be declining.