Survey: Country Divided on Who Should Pay Rent During Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak will force many out of work. Americans who do not own but rent will be affected. Find out who fellow Americans feel shouldn't be required to pay rent during the global pandemic.

The federal government and many local and state municipalities have announced a moratorium on all mortgage payments and foreclosure proceedings during the current global pandemic.

In NY, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have halted all eviction proceedings.

Many argue that this does not go far enough, especially in light of a recent survey PropertyNest conducted that showed almost 40% of New Yorkers would not be able to pay the rent if they lost their jobs.

As a follow-up PropertyNest conducted a national survey to ask Americans who they thought should receive rent exemption should a suspension is put in place during the pandemic.

Survey Highlights

The PropertyNest survey asked:

"If the federal government announces suspension of rent payments due to the coronavirus pandemic, who do you think should receive this benefit?"

  • Most respondents felt everyone should benefit from a rent moratorium. 24.5% of participants selected "Everyone", while 21.4% selected "only those who have lost their jobs or hours", and the third most popular answer was "No one" with 15.8% responses.
  • Far more men thought no one should be allowed to suspend rent payments. 59.7% of respondents who selected "No one" were men as opposed to women who made up 40.3% of those who selected "No one". 25-34 year-olds made up the largest age group that felt no one should stop paying rent during the pandemic.
  • Younger people were more likely to believe that everyone should be able to stop paying rent. All age groups under the age of 54 selected "everyone" more frequently. Respondents aged 55 and older were more likely to believe that only people who had lost wages or jobs should receive this benefit.
  • Almost just as many respondents felt only all middle-class families should benefit from a rent suspension as those who felt no one should. "All household earning less than $78,400" was a close fourth at 15.3% to "No one."
  • There was significantly less sympathy for upper-middle-class families than for middle or lower-income families. The least popular selection was "All households earning less than $187,800" at 6.4% of respondents as opposed to 8.3% who felt all low-income families earning less than $25,600 should be able to suspend rent payments.
  • Overall more respondents were sympathetic to Americans with cut back hours as well as those who had lost their jobs. Only 8.1% felt the benefit should go exclusively to those who lost their jobs over 21.4% who felt it should go to those who lost jobs or hours.
  • Based on the results, the vast majority of respondents believe at least some people should be able to have their rent suspended during this period of outbreak and lockdown.

Even with the predictions that 1 in 5 Americans will lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic (that's 20% unemployment), no governing bodies have yet announced a freeze on rent payments.

A number of areas like New York State, with NYC being the epicenter of the outbreak in the state, are canceling all work that is not deemed "essential", meaning that starting March 23, there may be many businesses having to shutter their doors and some for good.

When Policy Doesn't Line Up with Views

According to the survey 84.2 % of all respondents, representing all age groups and genders in all 50 states, favor some rent moratorium for people who might be adversely affected.

Among measures national, state, and local governments have taken during this time include not only suspending mortgage payments, postponing foreclosures and evictions but also extending the tax deadline to July 15, as well as extending a check to each American household.

The current results of the PropertyNest survey show that the U.S. government and the local governments' measures may not necessarily line up with the average citizen.

One reason may be is that there are many more individual landlords than there are mortgage lenders.

Implementing additional tax deductions should be a consideration for those holding investment properties.

Survey Methodology:

PropertyNest conducted an online survey among U.S. residents in all 50 states on who shouldn't pay rent due to restrictions from the coronavirus outbreak. 2,038 respondents ages 18 and older participated with a margin of error of +/- 4.7%. Income levels were chosen according to a Pew Research Center poll on income level and classes.

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.