The federal government finally passed a second round of stimulus aid on Dec. 27, eight months following the first relief package. Distribution of the relief funds began two days later, but even without receiving those checks, tenants continued to make rent payments at a high rate in December.
In its survey of 11.5 million households, the National Multifamily Housing Council found that 93.8% fully or partially paid their rents in December. This was an improvement from the 93.6% recorded in November, and a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from December 2019.
Approximately 20 million Americans remained unemployed and were collecting benefits as of December. This coupled with the uncertainty around the passage of a stimulus package prior to the new year and the surge in COVID-19 cases were some factors that may have impacted the December rent collections result.
However, December also brought positive news in addition to the aforementioned second round of stimulus aid. Multiple vaccines with high efficacy rates began to be distributed to high priority groups and frontline workers to combat the pandemic.
The new $900 billion stimulus package will provide $600 per individual ($1,200 for couples) plus $600 per child, and an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits. The stimulus checks will be available for individuals making under $75,000 annually and couples making less than $150,000. The check amounts will be reduced for people above those thresholds and phases out completely at $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples. The relief package also injects new funds in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which will allow the agency to continue providing forgivable loans to small businesses to keep workers on staff. These relief efforts are intended to help residents meet their financial obligations, including rent, much like the first stimulus package passed in March 2020 accomplished. The federal eviction ban for households was also extended until Jan. 31, 2021 and $25 billion in rental assistance has been made available to help pay for rent, which landlords can apply for on behalf of at-risk renters who were affected by the virus.
While December rent collections continued to prove the resiliency of multifamily properties, the new stimulus package is expected to be an additional tailwind for the multifamily industry.