Renters Seek Out Affordable Alternatives

According to the latest Assurant survey, many renters either became roommates or moved into more affordable units due to COVID-19.
Image by Patrick Perkins via Unsplash

An Assurant survey showed that nearly 75 percent of renters shifted towards more affordable rental options during the pandemic.

In the firm’s latest Multifamily Housing Renter Perspective Study, 40 percent of 608 renters surveyed between Jan. 20 and 26 said they relocated to more affordable units.

The survey also showed that another 34 percent of renters moved into another unit as a roommate for a more affordable living situation. When asked if renters would renew their lease if the lease terms were shortened and rent stayed the same, 78 percent of renters said they would.

Assurant’s survey also showed that 46 percent of participants needed rent relief in 2020, with another 24 percent adding that they would definitely need rent relief in the next three months.

Last year, the survey was released in June and showed that 42 percent of renters were unsure about their rental stability going forward.

In this year’s survey, 68 percent of property management companies and landlords reported that they are still implementing COVID-19 plans whether that be in the form of safety or financial issues.

However, many properties are also starting to resume normal operations, meaning a decrease in that amount of financial and community support.

POST-PANDEMIC RENTER PRIORITIES

In looking for their next rental, survey respondents ranked having a more affordable rental as the most important factor, followed by having lower move-in costs like security deposit alternatives, more flexible lease terms and the option for payment plans or deferred payments.

Ryan Lumsden, Assurant’s president of multifamily housing, told Multi-Housing News that the desire for more space and the availability of online property management tools are trends that are likely to persist.

He explained that renters ranked the ability to do things online like pay rent or virtual tours as the most important feature for communities. Lumsden told MHN that 73 percent of renters are looking for a larger living space most likely to accommodate for work-from-home capabilities.

“We do believe that affordability will continue to be an area of focus for property managers and landlords in the foreseeable future,” Lumsden told MHN. “Some of the things will likely go back to the way things were prior to COVID-19 but we do expect there to be a new normal post-pandemic.”