Rent delinquencies edge higher in latest Pulse Survey

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The “Week 57” edition of the Census Bureau’s Pulse Survey shows that the portion of renters with rent delinquencies rose to 13.8 percent, up from the 13.1 percent reported in the “Week 56” survey and from the 12.4 percent reported in the “Week 55” survey.

The Week 57 survey collected data from April 26 to May 8, 2023.

Rent delinquencies up

Renters in all phases of the Pulse survey have been asked whether they are behind on their rent. The first chart, below, shows the portion of respondents who said that they were behind at the time they were surveyed. The midpoint of the “Week 57” survey period was May 2, 154 weeks after the initial Pulse Survey. This survey period spanned the end of one month and the start of the next.

rent delinquency behind on rent

The portion of renters who pay rent (about 5 percent do not) reporting that they were behind on their rent has varied between 12.4 percent and 14.2 percent since the Week 50 survey in late September 2022. This month’s reported delinquency rate again fell into this range, although on its higher end.

Assessing rent growth

The survey asked participants whether they had experienced rent increases over the past 12 months. In the Week 57 survey, 42.0 percent of respondents who pay rent said that they either had not experienced a rent increase in the past 12 months or that their rent had gone down. This is an increase of 2.5 percentage points since the Week 56 survey. An additional 19.2 percent had experienced a rent increase of less than $100. These results are shown in the next chart, below.

rent increase rent change

The question about the size of rent increases over the past 12 months has been asked since the Week 46 survey. The next chart gathers all of the answers to this question together to look for trends. Despite survey-to-survey variability in the data, one trend visible in the chart is a declining portion of renters who have had no change in their rent. The Week 57 result is nearly 4 percentage points lower than what was seen when this question was first asked in June 2022. Another trend is that the portion of renters experiencing rent increases of $100 to $249 has been rising. No clear trend is seen for the other categories of rent changes.

rent change history

The next chart shows the distribution of rents paid by survey respondents. The data show that 35.7 percent of renters are paying less than $1,000 per month for their housing while 41.2 percent are paying more than $1,500.

current rent paidNote that the national average apartment rent is reported to be $1,355 by Apartment List and $1,709 by Yardi Matrix.

Profiling the participants

Of the respondents who reported being current on their rent, 32.1 percent said that they had children in the household. Of those reporting being behind on their rent, 55.8 percent reported having children in the household.

Of the respondents who reported being current on their rent, 13.5 percent said that they or a household member had experienced a loss of employment income over the prior 4 weeks. Of those reporting being behind on their rent, 29.7 percent reported that they or a household member had experienced a loss of employment income.

The next chart shows the portion of respondents who are behind on their rent by education level. It shows that being current on their rent is correlated to the education level of the respondent.

rent delinquency by education level

The final chart shows the sources of the funds survey respondents used to meet spending needs. Compared to the Week 45 survey taken one year earlier, the portion of respondents who are current on their rent saying they rely on regular income sources for their support is about 10 percentage points higher in the Week 57 survey with 82 percent of respondents agreeing. For respondents who are behind on their rent, the difference is even greater. Only 48 percent of these respondents in the Week 45 survey said that they relied on regular sources of income while 73 percent of these respondents in the Week 57 survey said they did.

sources of funds

What is the Pulse Survey?

The Pulse Survey is an experimental program that the Census Bureau started shortly after economic shutdowns were imposed in response to COVID-19. It was designed to assess how the population of the country was faring under the economic stress caused by the reaction to the pandemic. The current survey, designated Week 57 despite being conducted 4 weeks after the previous survey, was collected under what Census calls Phase 3.8 of the survey. With each new phase of the survey, Census modifies the set of questions being asked. The renter portion of the survey covers renters of both multifamily and of single-family properties.