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Updated on Monday, September 13, 2021
Since March 2020, the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have enacted a national eviction moratorium and subsequent extensions to abate a larger housing crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But in late August 2021, the Supreme Court struck down the CDC’s eviction moratorium, putting millions of renters at risk of eviction despite COVID-19 cases inundating hospitals again, expanded unemployment benefits ending and the national unemployment rate sitting higher than its pre-pandemic levels.
Though some states have put protections or moratoriums against evictions into place, 45% of renters nationwide who are behind on payments say an eviction is somewhat or very likely.
- 15.4% of renters in the U.S. report being behind on rent payments. Of those delinquent on rent, 45.1% say they’re somewhat or very likely to be evicted in the next two months.
- Three-fourths of the renters furthest behind on rent believe they’re likely to be evicted in the coming months. 75% of households eight or more months behind on rent fear eviction soon, compared with 29.9% of people a month behind on rent.
- West Virginia has the largest share of renters — 28.3% — who say they’re behind on rent. North Carolina and Louisiana follow with 27.8% and 27.1% of renters behind. North Dakota has the smallest share of delinquent renters, with 3.9% behind on payments.
- Not all renters behind on rent say they’re likely to be evicted in the next few months. Mississippi has the highest share — 72.3% — of renters behind on rent who say they’re likely to face eviction in the coming months. On the other end, 6.8% of renters missing payments in Utah say their eviction is likely.
Nearly half of those behind on rent fear eviction
The prolonged coronavirus pandemic has created numerous situations that have impacted Americans’ ability to pay their bills, including rent. And with 15.4% of renters falling behind on rent, layoffs, widespread illness and the need for child care are all likely contributors.
But while the majority of renters behind on their payments have only missed one or two months of rent, 45.1% of all renters behind on payments say they’re somewhat or very likely to be evicted in the next two months.
Plenty of homeowners have certainly dealt with similar financial troubles as a result of the pandemic, but they may be less likely to face foreclosure or removal from their homes than renters.
According to MagnifyMoney senior economic analyst Jacob Channel, homeowners generally have higher incomes and — in turn — more savings.
“Depending on their lender, a homeowner who is having financial difficulties may have more options to lower their monthly payments while remaining in their home than a renter would,” Channel says. This includes mortgage forbearance and a mortgage rate reduction.
More missed rent, more likely to see eviction proceedings
The pandemic has gone on for so long that even the most prepared of savers may be struggling to make their rent payments by now. For many renters, however, the struggle has been ongoing for more than half a year.
Those most behind on rent are reasonably among those most fearful of eviction filings. Of those eight or more months late on rent, 75% report either some or a high likelihood of eviction in the next two months. However, the share of renters fearing eviction action doesn’t steadily rise with the number of months of missed payment, as 75.5% of those five months late on rent think eviction is at least somewhat likely.
On the contrary, 29.9% of renters who’ve only missed one month of rent think they may face eviction soon. Perhaps these renters live in states with protections against evictions, or they’re confident their situation will change before their landlord takes legal action.
|Percentage of renters who believe they’re somewhat or very likely to be evicted in the next 2 months|
|Months behind on rental payments||Percentage of renters fearing eviction|
|8 months or more||75.0%|
Southern renters fall behind on payments
Though 21 states have a percentage of renters behind on payments that’s higher than the national rate of 15.4%, six of the 10 states with the highest share of overdue renters hail from the South. West Virginia takes the top spot, with 28.3% of renters behind on payments, followed closely by North Carolina and Louisiana at 27.8% and 27.1%, respectively.
West Virginia may have one of the lowest average rent prices in the U.S., but it also has one of the lowest median household incomes — even before the pandemic — likely contributing to renter delinquency. High incomes don’t always help, however: New Jersey has one of the highest median household incomes in the U.S., but also the fourth-largest percentage of renters behind on rent at 24.8%. Average rent in N.J. outpaces nearly every other state.
|Share of renters behind on rent, by state|
|Rank||State||% of renters behind on rent|
|4 (tie)||New Jersey||24.8%|
|16 (tie)||New York||17.6%|
|33 (tie)||New Hampshire||11.8%|
|37 (tie)||South Dakota||9.9%|
|37 (tie)||District of Columbia||9.9%|
North Dakota leads the states in having the smallest shares of renters behind on payments, with 3.9% of people who rent overdue. Three other Midwest states — Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio — join the 10 states with the smallest shares of delinquent renters.
States in the West are also well-represented, with four states where most renters are in good standing. Utah takes the No. 3 spot with 6.1% of renters behind on payments, along with Colorado at No. 5 (tied with Indiana) and Oregon and Arizona, which share the No. 10 spot with 9.1% of renters late on payments in each state.
States with most renters at risk of eviction
Similar to the national-level data — which didn’t directly correlate more months of missed rent with more fear of eviction — the states with the highest percentages of renters who feel they’re likely to be evicted shake out a bit differently than the states with the largest shares of delinquent renters.
Southern states dominate the top of the rankings again: Of the top 10, six Southern states, as well as the District of Columbia, have the largest shares of renters likely to be evicted — though just a few states overlap the top of both lists.
Mississippi leads the U.S. with the largest share of renters late on rent who are likely to face eviction at 72.3%. Only 14% of renters in Mississippi report being late on rent, so many fearing eviction could mean many of them are several months behind.
|Share of delinquent renters somewhat or very likely to be evicted in the next 2 months, by state|
|Rank||State||% of renters behind on rent likely to face eviction|
|6||District of Columbia||64.5%|
|25 (tie)||New Jersey||39.4%|
States with the smallest percentages of renters fearing eviction mostly differ from those with the smallest shares of renters behind on payments, though with some notable exceptions. For example, Utah, with the third-smallest share of late-paying renters (6.1%), has the smallest share of renters fearing an imminent eviction at just 6.8%.
North Dakota’s smallest-in-the-nation share of renters late on payment is also one of most skeptical of eviction with the fifth-smallest share of likely evictees at 24.2%. Minnesota and Connecticut also feature some of the smallest shares of late renters and renters likely to be evicted.
Wyoming, contrarily, features the second-smallest share — 19.5% — of delinquent renters who think eviction is likely within the next two months, despite being tied for the fourth-highest percentage of renters late on payments at 24.8%.
Regionally speaking, renters in the Midwest and West appear to be the least likely to be evicted, with both contributing four states to the 10 with the smallest shares of renters fearing eviction.
Eviction prevention starts at home
Another federal eviction moratorium seems unlikely in light of the recent Supreme Court decision — still, in the absence of government protection, renters can take steps to help shield themselves from eviction and stay in their homes.
If you’re struggling to make your rent payments, talk to your landlord as soon as possible to try to avoid a worsening situation.
And long before you get into a position where eviction becomes a likelihood, some financial preparedness may help avoid a crisis:
- Stack your emergency savings. You can never be too prepared — the pandemic has shown plenty of folks that even two months’ worth of expenses might not be enough savings to keep them afloat in a real emergency. MagnifyMoney senior content director Ismat Mangla warns not to get intimidated by building savings from scratch. “Try automating the process of socking away a small amount every paycheck,” she says. “If that’s not possible, think about what short-term side hustles you can pick up to give your emergency savings an initial boost.”
- Find out what bills you need to prioritize. When money’s tight for any reason and you’ve already had to burn through your emergency fund, it can be difficult to figure out the next steps. “Prioritize your basic living necessities first,” Mangla says. “That means cover what you need to to make sure you have a roof over your head and food on the table.” Once that’s covered and you look to pay bills, Mangla recommends finding your obligations that might have a grace period before you lose service — like water or electricity — that you may be able to put off.
- Ask for help. Everybody needs a little help sometimes, and you don’t need to go it alone. There may be someone in your family or friend circle who can help you make ends meet or give you a place to stay for a while, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers emergency rent resources to help those in need.
MagnifyMoney researchers analyzed data from Week 35 of the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, covering Aug. 4 to Aug. 16, 2021.
Specifically, analysts found the percentage of renting households who reported being behind on rent payments and the percentage of renters who are behind on rent and reported they were very or somewhat likely to be evicted in the next two months.