Entrata has released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on rent payments, fees, repayment agreements, leasing and operations in the student housing sector. All findings are specific to Entrata’s student housing clients through the first week of April 2020.
Entrata’s report saw 81 percent of student residents making a rent payment during the first week of April. are seeing higher than normal delinquencies in April — 13.81 percent, which is nearly double the rate seen in March 2020 — stemming from many residents leaving their units after colleges and universities around the country shut down. Nebraska, Minneapolis, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and Texas led with the highest percentage of units making a payment in the first week, with 85 percent or more of residents paying rent.
Students (and guarantors) with a free online payment option took advantage of it to submit a rent payment, on average, seven percent more than residents whose properties did not absorb transaction fees. Across the country, student housing payments via credit card increased over five percent, and electronic payments were up seven percent from April 2019.
Late Fees and Repayments
In April of this year, only $1.14 million in late fees were posted compared with over $2.8 million in April of 2019. In the first week of the month, over $123,000 in late fees were waived compared to less than $38,000 in April of 2019 and $76,000 in March of 2020.
Although repayment agreements are just getting started, Entrata has observed a significant spike in the number created in April. In the first week of the month, properties generated 320 repayment agreements compared to 15 in April of 2019 and 42 in March of 2020.
The number of new leads per-unit in the first days of April 2020 was 0.7, lower than March 2020’s 0.8. Similarly, although new applications per-unit dropped from March 2020 to April 2020, the numbers are currently down only slightly from application rates last year.
Applicant screening rates, on the other hand, are less consistent. While the average number of applicant screenings across the country are trending slightly down, state-by-state analysis shows large jumps in the number of screenings while others reflect lower screening activity compared to March 2020.
As expected, fewer leases than normal have been generated and approved over the last few days than Entrata would normally expect to see in early April. Many states are experiencing significant drops in the number of leases generated compared to last month.