Rental payments nationwide have decreased since March, accordingto a rental trends report by Rentec Direct.

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The trend isn't surprising, as the national unemployment ratehas increased almost 10 percent since this February, prior to thestart of stay-at-home orders. As tenants struggle to pay theirbills, rent is often the most expensive living expense with anaverage of at least 30 percent of a person's income.

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In July, landlords and property managers received 26 percentfewer rent payments than in March. The percentage of rent paymentshad steadily declined since March, and had dropped an additionaltwo percent in the last month. The lower percentage of rentalpayments showed that the economic burden from the COVID-19 pandemicis worse than back in March. April showed the steepest drop inrental payments at 17 percent, with the rate of rental paymentsslowly declining since. May saw a two percent decrease from theprevious month, with an additional 5 percent decrease in June.

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In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the methodstenants use to pay rent. Payments received in cash or check were1.6 percent less than online payments. Landlords and propertymanagers showed an increased interest in using online payments inMarch 2020, when the mandated stay-at-home orders began in multiplestates. The amount of cash or check payments versus online rentalpayments decreased 1.5 percent in April, stayed steady in May withno difference between the two methods, then showed in favor ofonline payments again in June with 1.4 percent more likely to payrent online.

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Since then, the interest in online payments has dropped by 11percent, but remains a method a tenant would be more likely to usein paying rent. Roughly 124 property managers submit applicationsto receive online payments each month. The desire to use an onlinepayment method was increasing slightly at the beginning of theyear, with a small increase from January to February. However, theinterest spiked drastically in March once stay-at-home orders weremandated, before falling steadily in April and May. June saw aslight uptick in interest for online rental payments.

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