Nearly three out of every five renters tapped into their stimulus checks to cover rent during the pandemic, a new study from Entrata has revealed.
Fifty-nine percent of renters used all or part of their $1,200 in stimulus funds from the federal government to pay rent during the COVID-19 crisis. Of the renters who didn’t use all of their stimulus check for rent, 46% used it for non-rent living expenses, such as groceries, household bills, car payments and gas.
Overall, Entrata’s survey found that 78% of renters have made “significant cuts” to their regular spending habits during the ongoing pandemic, and 29% — including 50% of Gen X renters and 28% of millennials — used a credit card to pay their rent as the pandemic has worn on.
Seventeen percent were unable to pay rent in full due to the pandemic; of that group, 41% indicated it was because they had lost their jobs to the coronavirus crisis.
“COVID-19 has affected people all over the world, and U.S. renters are no exception,” said Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer. “Our study shows that renters struggled to pay their full rent during the lockdown period, but in many cases, residents and management were able to come together to find a compromise and help ensure people were able to keep a roof over their heads.”
Indeed, 22% of renters requested a COVID-related postponement or cancellation of rent in the last six months. Thirty-seven percent of survey participants said that management waived late fees during the pandemic, with 66% of renters whose management waived fees taking advantage by paying later in the month.
“This pandemic will have lasting effects on the rental market,” Harrington said, “as renters look for flexibility and new ways to pay rent and interact with landlords and managers.”
The pandemic also continues to reshape renters’ future plans, both long and short. Forty-two percent of renters indicated that their housing plans in the near term were impacted by COVID-19. Thirteen percent of renters moved to a less expensive apartment because of the pandemic — 20% of those married or in a domestic partnership opted to do so, as did 8% of single renters. Sixteen percent chose to renew their current lease in lieu of buying a home.
According to Entrata, COVID’s impact may be most pronounced among renters seeking a temporary residence while they assess their housing options. Before the pandemic, just 13% of renters were forced to live with family for a few weeks. Since, that share has ballooned to 23%. Another twenty-one percent have been forced to live with family for a few months, while 13% expect they will have to do so for more than a year.
Entrata’s data was collected via an online survey distributed among 1,037 adult renters in the United States from August 11 to September 3.