(CNN) - About a third of American renters didn’t make payments at the beginning of April in what is likely a sign of how the coronavirus pandemic is making it harder for many to keep a roof above their heads.
Of 13.4 million U.S. renters included in the payment data, just 69% paid their rent between April 1 and April 5, often the day a late fee would be incurred. During the same period in March, 81% paid rent on time.
The report comes from the National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade association for the apartment industry. The data set is just a snapshot of the 44 million renters in the country and does not include subsidized housing, a lifeline for many low-income people.
Still, it’s likely evidence of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting Americans’ financial health.
The missed payments seem to be the result of millions losing their jobs. Nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the outbreak began, and more than one in 10 workers lost their jobs in just the past three weeks, the Associated Press reports.
It won’t be until May that the apartment industry will have an accurate picture of the virus’ impact, according to Priscilla Almodovar, CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, a national non-profit developing affordable housing.
“People were working in March. April rent may have come from their savings,” she said. “The rent check is probably the first thing they pay. Now they may be unemployed, and we don’t know what resources will get to them in time for May.”
At least half of states and dozens of cities temporarily halted evictions in March, but missing payments, especially continuing to do so, could still cause issues between landlords and tenants.
The federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus bill will help renters in federally subsidized affordable housing through financial aid, a 120-day moratorium on evictions and late fees.
Experts are urging those who can’t pay to alert their landlords and seek aid from non-profits or use their stimulus check to cover some of their expenses.