Renters Will Owe Up to $34 Billion in Back Rent by January

September 28, 2020


Renters Will Owe Up to $34 Billion in Back Rent by January

NCSHA report estimates roughly 10 million to 14 million renter households were behind on their rent as of Sept. 14.

U.S. renters will owe up to $34 billion in past-due rent by January, increasing eviction filings and imposing financial hardship on millions in just a few months, according to a report released today by the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA).

“This analysis is more proof that a huge wave of evictions and additional financial pain will crash on the American economy soon unless Congress authorizes emergency aid to renters,” said NCSHA executive director Stockton Williams.

Adobe Stock

The report by Stout Risius Ross estimates roughly 10 million to 14 million renter households—home to 23 million to 34 million renters—were behind on their rent by a total of roughly $12 billion to $17 billion as of Sept. 14.

These renters will owe $25 billion to $34 billion by January, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) nationwide eviction moratorium expires. This rent shortfall estimate does not include any interest or fees landlords may charge, as allowed by the CDC eviction moratorium.

By January, more than 8 million renter households—home to more than 20 million renters—could experience an eviction filing, according to the report, which assumes that landlords will file an eviction notice if a tenant is three months or more behind in rent payments.

“Even renters who avoid eviction will be forced to make painful trade-offs,” Williams said. “They will go without food and health care and take on debt that will drain their resources for months and years to come.”

The report shows the current and projected rent shortfall and estimated eviction filings in every state. For example:


Estimated Range of Rent Shortfall
by January 2021

Estimated Eviction Filings
by January 2021


$461 million – $630 million



$469 million – $666 million



$2.1 billion – $2.7 billion



$161 million – $211 million



$55 million – $81 million



$603 million – $808 million


North Carolina

$632 million – $824 million



$697 million – $958 million


South Carolina

$329 million – $429 million



$345 million – $465 million


According to NCSHA’s analysis of data from the National Apartment Association, America’s accrued apartment rent burden could result in up to:

  • $6.8 billion to $9.2 billion in reduced apartment payroll expenses, which includes the salaries of property managers, maintenance staff, contractors, and others;
  • $3.5 billion to $4.8 billion in cuts to local property tax revenue to fund teachers, police, firefighters, and other critical personnel; and
  • $2.5 billion to $3.4 billion in deferred maintenance and delayed repairs necessary to maintain health and safety for renters.

State housing finance agencies in 33 states have stood up emergency rental assistance programs in the last six months, but they will not be able to meet the current and coming overwhelming need without more federal support.

NCSHA has joined many other housing organizations in calling on Congress to make major investments immediately in the Emergency Shelter Grants program and Housing Assistance Fund proposed program, which states could use to provide emergency rental assistance. Federal assistance must be sufficient to alleviate the harm renters and landlords have already experienced and ensure renters can remain stably housed until the economy has fully recovered, according to NCSHA.