New Survey Shows Small-Scale Landlords Feel Financial Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Thirty-nine percent of small-scale landlords surveyed by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation lacked confidence they could cover their costs over the next 90 days. Small-scale landlords, who own and manage fewer than 20 units, have largely been left out of previous data-collection efforts like rent payment trackers.

The Terner Center, in partnership with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), administered the survey in late June and early July and received responses from 380 rental property owners and managers, 83% of whom managed smaller buildings with fewer than 20 rental units. Among respondents, 58% own or manage one to four units. Nearly half of the properties represented in the results were in California, Texas, and Illinois.

The majority of landlords reported a decline in rental income from the first quarter of the year, and one in four landlords had borrowed funds to make ends meet. Almost two in five are not confident they can cover their costs through September.

Whether small-scale landlords can continue to operate their properties impacts housing options for low-income renters, since apartments in smaller multifamily buildings typically have more affordable rents. The Joint Center for Housing Studies has estimated that over half of renters with at-risk wages due to the pandemic live in single-family and multifamily rentals with two to four units, which are more likely to be owned by small, individual investors (see JCHS, 2020). Financial trouble may affect how well such buildings can be maintained. Small-scale landlords selling or converting such buildings can lead to a loss in the stock of affordable housing.

The survey factsheet can be found here:

The accompanying blog post can be found here: