These days, rent collection data is among the most highlyreviewed monthly reports. However, the strength of rent paymentsduring the pandemic really depends on what outlet you're reading.For June, Lease Lock has reported rents are down6% compared to pre-COVID levels; the National MultifamilyHousing Council is reporting that June rents are on parwith 2019 collections to date; and Apartment Listreports that 30% of tenants are not able to make a complete rentpayment.

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The inconsistencies come down to two factors: First, someoutlets are counting only full rent payments, not partial payments.Second, each research outlet is looking at a different segment ofthe market. "The goal of our survey is to get as broad andrepresentative of a sample as possible. By just looking atcollections data, you might focus on larger, professionally managedbuildings that skew more expensive and tend to have higher-incomeresidents that may find it easier to pay rent," RobWarnock of Apartment List tells GlobeSt.com.

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Apartment List uses data from smaller mom-and-pop landlords inaddition to some larger landlords, giving a different marketperspective. "Our survey captures some of those residents, butshould also capture renters in a broader set of housing situations,like those renting from mom-and-pop landlords," says Warnock. "Wesuspect that's part of the reason why our missed payment rate tendsto be higher than what's reported by other sources."

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Like other outlets, Apartment List has shown consistent rentalpayments during the pandemic, although lower total collections thansome other outlets. June was no different. Rent payments weresimilar to May with a slight decrease in full payments and anincrease in partial payments. "We're happy that the situation didnot get worse, and that the missed payment rate stabilized from 31%in May to 30% in June," says Warnock. "The pessimistic reaction is:these rates remain historically and unsustainably high, and withmany eviction bans soon expiring, we fear that an eviction crisiscould be looming in the latter half of the year."

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The consistence in rent payments—for both large and smallproperties—however, could change in August when the additionalunemployment assistance expires. However, Warnock doesn'tnecessarily expect the end of pandemic unemployment assistance todisrupt rent collection. "It's really difficult to say, becausethere are a lot of factors at play," he says. "On the one hand PUAis expiring, which could lead to a drop in payments. On the otherhand, economies are reopening which should put some people back towork and hopefully increase payments."

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Regulation, including eviction moratoriums, could also becontributing to an increase in missed payments, which has increasedsteadily, according to Apartment List data. "Theeviction/foreclosure bans are also an interesting factor," saysWarnock. "Part of me wonders if these bans have actually encouragedmissed payments by allowing people to prioritize other forms ofessential spending, knowing that they won't be kicked out of theirhomes. As the bans expire, some may re-prioritize housing paymentsknowing that there is no longer a safety net."

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In fact, Warnock makes the case that overall rents couldincrease for the affordable housing segment later this year as morepeople chose to downgrade their homes. "I suspect most of the rentdecline is coming from the more expensive end of the market, sincemany more people are looking to downgrade, rather than upgrade,their homes," he explains. "That's increasing demand for affordablehomes, which are already in such short supply. So I think rentalbreaks will be there for people looking to move into class-Aproperties; those looking for class-B and C rentals might have todeal with even tighter competition."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.