A larger percentage of American households paid their rent in March compared to February as relief aid from the third stimulus package has been disbursed and mass distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has been underway.
Of the 11.6 million households surveyed in March by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), 95.9% partly or fully paid their rent for the month. This marked an improvement of 2.4 percentage points from February’s 93.5%, and it was 1.3 percentage points lower than March 2020, when the national emergency was declared for COVID-19 and cases just began to rise.
The month-over-month rent collections increase in March occurred while the U.S. economy continued to show signs of improvement from the effects of the pandemic as more businesses reopened amid the vaccine rollout. Approximately 84.2 million Americans (or 1 in 4 people) have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile the national unemployment rate dropped to 6% in March 2021, continuing a steady decline from its 14.8% peak in April 2020.
Additionally, the American Rescue Plan (the third COVID-19 stimulus package) was signed into law on March 11, and it has begun providing numerous kinds of relief aid to households, including more than $30 billion worth of rental assistance and homeless services. The stimulus package also contained larger direct checks to individuals and families, an extension of extra weekly unemployment benefits, an expanded child tax credit, and more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Due in large part to the reopening of businesses and the growth in employment, demand was exceptionally high for apartments across various markets in the first quarter, according to RealPage.
Despite the positive momentum during the month, the CDC extended its eviction moratorium from March 31 to June 30. The moratorium, which has been ruled unlawful by federal judges from various states and is opposed by numerous housing organizations, restricts landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent if the tenant has suffered financial hardship.