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Coronavirus forces California landlords to double rent discounts

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

While many California tenants struggle to make monthly payments, the economic distress has forced landlords to double their incentives for new customers, according to one study.

Apartment seekers will be happy to know that 30.4% of the rental listings on Zillow’s online apartment-hunting service advertised some form of concession in July vs. 16.2% in February, before the coronavirus became an economic wrecking ball. Zillow said these incentives range from free months rent or parking to gift cards to no deposit.

Among the six California markets tracked among 50 major U.S. metropolitan areas, on average 32% of the listings showed some discounting in July vs. 15% five months earlier.

The coronavirus has made the landlord business difficult. Massive job losses put renters in tough financial situations. Government eviction moratoriums made collecting rents even tricker.

And pandemic fears changed the thinking of tenants who remained employed. Many chose to renew leases as they preferred their current residence while others with solid paychecks chose to buy homes, gaining more space and housing stability.

That added up to fewer apartment seekers and the landlord’s urge to discount. Here’s how it broke down locally, according to Zillow …

San Francisco: 41% of rental units tracked had discounts, 10th highest nationally among the 50 metros. That’s up from 16.4% unit with concessions in February.

San Jose: 40% with discounts, No. 11 nationally and up from 21% in February.

San Diego: 30% with discounts, No. 28 nationally and up from 17% in February.

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