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Pandemic worsens rental home shortage, affecting accessibility and affordability

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Posted at 12:20 PM, Apr 05, 2021

The U.S. is in the midst of a rental housing shortage that the pandemic has only exacerbated.

According to the National Rental Home Council (NRHC), 275,000 rental homes were taken off the market in 2020, which has continued the year-over-year trend of decreases in rental home availability.

“The pandemic has really served to create a lot of uncertainty for property owners,” said David Howard, executive director of the NRHC.

In February, the NRHC surveyed 1,000 single-family home rental property owners and found 50 percent reported not receiving rent from their tenants at some point during the pandemic. Of that 50 percent, the NRHC reports 50 percent of the rental property owners offered flexible payment plans and 45 percent had forgiven some rent.

The NRHC says 23 percent of respondents said the losses and uncertainty have led them to sell at least one of their rental home properties.

“It’s going to impact accessibility. It’s going to impact affordability,” explained Howard.

Abbey Chimenti has lived in the same rental home property in Denver for five years. She says towards the end of March, she received a letter from her landlord telling her and her three roommates that the house had been sold to a family, and they would have to vacate within 30 days.

“This was my home longer than I was in college,” she said. “I’ve had a very good relationship with my landlord, but this came as a shock.”

Chimenti says she and her roommates wanted to stay together so they immediately started looking at other rental properties and quickly applied to more than 30, all of which declined their applications.

“Nobody wants to take four different types of people with two dogs and so everything’s just been chaotic since then,” said roommate Tierra Romero.

The NRHC says there are currently 23 million single-family rental homes in the U.S., and 90 percent of those are "mom and pop” owners and not property management companies.