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December NYC Apartment Rent Collections Drop To 79%

Residential buildings along West End Avenue on the Upper West Side

More than a fifth of New York City renters haven’t paid December rent, a new survey shows.

Almost 21% of renters didn’t pay rent before Dec. 14, according to a Community Housing Improvement Program survey of landlords who own more than 80,000 units combined, up from 17% last month.

“[Landlords] have borne a significant financial burden as the government has done absolutely nothing to help them, and not nearly enough for their tenants. This cannot continue,” CHIP Executive Director Jay Martin said in a statement. “The government needs to step up and provide rental assistance to renters who cannot afford to pay, and give housing providers property tax breaks to offset their lost rent arrears.” 

While rent collections went down, so did the vacancy rate, which hit 11.8% this month, down from 13.2% in November. Still, even with this shrunken vacancy, overall demand is down and landlords are offering concessions at high rates to get new tenants into their empty apartments. On average, landlords offered 1.61 months of free rent to entice new renters. 

Landlords have faced rising costs alongside their falling revenues. Operating income for CHIP members is down over 22% this year while expenses have climbed 10%, respondents said.

The drop in rent collections comes weeks before both the statewide and federal eviction moratoriums are set to expire on New Year’s Day, while congressional lawmakers attempt to push a stimulus package through that could provide direct rental assistance. A lack of funding, even if the moratoriums are extended, could worsen the city’s affordable housing crisis and push small landlords to sell their properties. 

“That has distributional impacts and could lead to way less affordable housing,” Urban Institute Policy Program Manager Kate Reynolds told Bisnow earlier this week.