Survey: 44% of New Yorkers Struggle to Meet May 1st Rent Deadline during COVID-19 Pandemic

While some New Yorkers did not pay April 1st's rent, even more will not be able to make May 1st's. Find out how many people can pay their rent, and what other New Yorkers are doing to meet their rents.
Survey 44% graphic

With more than 22 million Americans out of jobs or furloughed, many have been left in the dust to make ends meet. The stimulus and unemployment checks may come too late for May 1st and be too little to cover the full cost of living expenses in general.

A rent strike and moratorium have been in discussion among residents in several states, including New York, as an increasing number of people across the country was not able to meet April's rent.

PropertyNest conducted a survey to explore how many people would be able to pay their rent on their own and on time for the coming month of May as the economic downturn continues.

Survey Highlights:

PropertyNest asked:

"As a NYC renter, what do you plan on doing for rent on May 1st?"

  • Over half of respondents said they would pay their rent as usual on May 1st, which was by far the number one response at 55.7%. 11% of respondents said that they wouldn't have the money for May 1st's rent and 10.8% will wait to pay until they receive the stimulus check.
  • 17.9% of New York renters flat out do not have the money to pay May's rent, of whom 39% did not have April's rent either.
  • Only 5.6% of respondents had worked out a payment plan with their landlord. Despite the number of people struggling to pay their rent, only a small percentage of renters were able to work out some kind of deal with their landlords. Women made up the majority of those who worked out a rent agreement
  • 18-24-year-olds made up the largest age group who were not able to afford the rent for April and May. They made up 21.8% of all who could not pay the rent for both months.
  • More women struggle to pay rent than men. Women made up 54.1 % of those New Yorkers who couldn't pay for the month of May, and 55.1% of those who couldn't pay for both April and May. They also made up 57.8% of respondents who will borrow money to cover their rent.
  • Overall 44.4% of New York renters will not be able to meet rent payment on their own come May 1st. This is consists of all respondents who do not have the funds, those who will borrow money, waiting for the stimulus check, paying late, or worked out a plan with their landlords.
44% of NY Renters struggle to meet May 1st rent

These survey results correspond with PropertyNest's earlier survey findings on multiple points. Last month, a PropertyNest survey found almost 39% of New Yorkers would not be able to pay the rent if they lost their jobs or hours at work.

Over 44% of our survey respondents would not be paying their full rent on time for May with their own income, when we factor in the responses that included those waiting for stimulus checks, paying late, having a special payment plan with one's landlord, and those who need to borrow money.

The same survey in March found that younger people would have more difficulty in coming up with the rent. In this survey's results, 18-24 year-olds made up the largest age group who could pay for April or May, and 25-34 year-olds made up the largest age group who can't pay for May.

There was also a parallel between the two surveys on women being more likely to struggle to pay the rent.

According to the newest survey, even more people will not be able to make rent on May 1st than on April 1st, when comparing that 10.9% will not be able to pay to 6.9% who couldn't pay for either.

Economic Issues Caused by COVID-19 Continue to Plague New Yorkers

While social distancing and quarantine seem to be working in curbing the number of new cases and deaths, no one truly knows when and how the economy will reopen at this point.

Even if the economy reopens in the next month, there is no telling if the jobs that were lost would reappear. Most likely, joblessness will continue for some time for many.

Landlords with mortgages and high operating costs will also take a hit with the loss of revenue from both residential and commercial tenants.

We may see landlords, real estate investors, and homeowners start to default on loans, which will then cause a spiral effect on the real estate market.

It will also affect how lenders behave and who they lend to. More than likely, lenders and financial institutions will make it harder to borrow much like after the financial crisis in 2008.

In a city like New York where renters make up the majority of residents, the fate of renters will have an enormous impact on real estate sales and investment.

Survey Methodology

PropertyNest conducted an online survey among New York residents on how they would respond to the rent due on May 1st of 2020 in New York City. 1,002 respondents ages 18 and older participated with a margin of error of +/- 1.7%.

Ruth Shin
About the author

Ruth Shin is the Founder and CEO of PropertyNest. She shares in-depth insights on real estate, personal finance, and home improvement drawing from her experience as a licensed real estate agent, editing personal finance publications, and managing many home renovation projects. Ruth graduated with a BA from Hunter College in Writing, History, and Special Honors.