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.
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.
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%|
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.
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.
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:
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.