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Economy

The Rent Is Getting Paid. How?

Four out of five apartment renters in the U.S. were able to make their rent payment in May. But the data only tells part of the story.
An apartment building in Queens, New York.
An apartment building in Queens, New York.John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dennis Schvejda, a landlord who owns two apartment buildings with 16 units in Walton, New York, was worried going into May. His tenants are of modest means; rents at his units average about $550 a month. After expenses — which include maintenance and utilities as well as county, town and village taxes — his taxable apartment income is about $115 a week, he says. With the U.S. facing unprecedented job losses and the steepest economic reversal since the Great Depression, he didn’t know if the May rents would be coming. If not, he says, he would have been forced to sell.

To Schvejda’s surprise, May rent was better than April. All but two of his tenants were able to fully pay their rent on time, and one tenant repaid the April payment they had missed. “With Upstate New York beginning to open for business soon, I’m hopeful that my extreme concern about nonpayment of rent was overblown,” he says.