A new report from the Urban Institute, “Renters Have Weathered the Pandemic Better Than Expected, But Situations Are Worsening for Those with Low Incomes,” illustrates the challenges renters with low incomes are facing at this point in the pandemic. As interventions such as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Emergency Rental Assistance Program and eviction moratoriums have begun to end, renters with low incomes are financially worse off than they were both before the pandemic began and in the earlier stages of the pandemic. Low-income renters are now less likely to make on-time rent payments than they were before the pandemic began and less able to save than they were at this time a year ago.
To evaluate the financial struggles of renters with low incomes, the authors used data provided by Avail, an online rental property management platform for mom-and-pop landlords that surveyed both landlords and tenants. Renters with low incomes were less likely to pay rent on time in November 2022 compared to in January 2020. Approximately 82.3% of renters with low incomes paid their monthly rent on time by November 2022 compared to 84.5% of renters with low incomes in January 2020. While low-income renters increasingly struggled to pay rent on time, the share of all renters who paid on time generally stayed consistent over the pandemic (around 87%).
The authors find that renters with low incomes have been particularly impacted by inflation. More than three-quarters (78%) of renters with incomes at or below $50,000 reported that they were saving less than they were a year ago, compared to 68% of renters with incomes at or above $75,000. Further, low-income renters have fewer opportunities to lower their rent. Renters with low incomes were less likely to work from home and therefore had less flexibility to move to more affordable areas. Additionally, renters with low incomes facing rent increases had a lower success rate than renters overall in trying to negotiate lower rent amounts.
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