States With Most Renters at Risk of Eviction - MagnifyMoney

States With Most Renters at Risk of Eviction as Federal Moratorium Ends

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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.

Key findings

  • 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.

Depending on the state, landlords can begin the early stages of eviction as soon as a tenant misses a payment, but the longer rent goes unpaid, the more likely a tenant will risk eviction — it is important to note the term “eviction” refers to the legal proceedings that may lead to a tenant’s removal. Tenants can fight an eviction in court or remedy the situation before it goes to court. Eviction processes vary by state and can generally take from a few weeks to several 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
1 month 29.9%
2 months 58.5%
3 months 64.3%
4 months 57.7%
5 months 75.5%
6 months 65.2%
7 months 73.2%
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
1 West Virginia 28.3%
2 North Carolina 27.8%
3 Louisiana 27.1%
4 (tie) New Jersey 24.8%
4 (tie) Wyoming 24.8%
6 Pennsylvania 23.0%
7 Alabama 21.1%
8 Maryland 20.3%
9 Missouri 20.1%
10 Arkansas 19.6%
11 Kentucky 19.3%
12 South Carolina 19.2%
13 Michigan 18.4%
14 Iowa 18.1%
15 Florida 17.8%
16 (tie) Illinois 17.6%
16 (tie) New York 17.6%
18 Oklahoma 17.5%
19 New Mexico 17.4%
20 Virginia 16.6%
21 Hawaii 16.4%
22 Rhode Island 14.9%
23 California 14.2%
24 Mississippi 14.0%
25 Texas 13.5%
26 Nevada 13.4%
27 Georgia 13.2%
28 Delaware 13.1%
29 (tie) Tennessee 12.8%
29 (tie) Wisconsin 12.8%
31 Nebraska 12.1%
32 Washington 11.9%
33 (tie) New Hampshire 11.8%
33 (tie) Kansas 11.8%
35 Montana 11.7%
36 Idaho 11.0%
37 (tie) South Dakota 9.9%
37 (tie) District of Columbia 9.9%
39 (tie) Alaska 9.7%
39 (tie) Massachusetts 9.7%
41 (tie) Arizona 9.1%
41 (tie) Oregon 9.1%
43 Connecticut 8.5%
44 Ohio 7.8%
45 Minnesota 7.0%
46 (tie) Colorado 6.9%
46 (tie) Indiana 6.9%
48 Vermont 6.4%
49 Utah 6.1%
50 Maine 5.6%
51 North Dakota 3.9%

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
1 Mississippi 72.3%
2 (tie) Florida 66.8%
2 (tie) Ohio 66.8%
4 Indiana 66.2%
5 South Carolina 64.6%
6 District of Columbia 64.5%
7 Louisiana 62.3%
8 North Carolina 60.7%
9 (tie) Oklahoma 59.9%
9 (tie) Missouri 59.9%
11 West Virginia 55.5%
12 New Hampshire 54.5%
13 Delaware 53.6%
14 Kentucky 52.6%
15 Virginia 48.6%
16 Texas 48.4%
17 Iowa 48.3%
18 Tennessee 48.1%
19 Alabama 47.5%
20 Michigan 45.4%
21 Nebraska 44.6%
22 California 43.9%
23 Kansas 41.8%
24 Hawaii 40.3%
25 (tie) Idaho 39.4%
25 (tie) New Jersey 39.4%
27 Arkansas 37.5%
28 Oregon 37.0%
29 Alaska 36.6%
30 Maryland 35.7%
31 (tie) Washington 35.5%
31 (tie) Georgia 35.5%
33 Pennsylvania 34.8%
34 Massachusetts 34.5%
35 New York 33.8%
36 Illinois 33.7%
37 Vermont 32.8%
38 Maine 30.0%
39 Colorado 29.8%
40 Arizona 29.6%
41 New Mexico 29.4%
42 Rhode Island 29.3%
43 Nevada 28.8%
44 Connecticut 26.8%
45 Minnesota 26.2%
46 Montana 25.2%
47 North Dakota 24.2%
48 South Dakota 22.1%
49 Wisconsin 21.5%
50 Wyoming 19.5%
51 Utah 6.8%

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.

“Even if you can’t get a rent reduction, your landlord may still allow you to end your lease early and move out without being officially evicted,” Channel says. “If you end up needing to look for a new place to live, avoiding an eviction will make your life easier down the road.”

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.