While turnover—the percentage of total rented units not renewed each year (and the opposite of retention)—has been declining for many years, COVID-19 has, at least temporarily, accelerated this trend. The impact of COVID-19 lockdown mandates and economic uncertainty are discouraging renters from moving. The resulting low turnover is helping owners maintain occupancy and cash flows.  

Key Takeaways


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  • - Turnover—the percentage of total rented units not renewed each year—fell from 47.5% in 2019 to 42.1% in April, the lowest level in over 20 years.

  • - The continuing long-term decline in turnover has accelerated recently due to fewer tenants moving because of the COVID-19 economic downturn.

  • - Q1 statistics capture only about two weeks of the COVID-19 period. Turnover usually rises each spring, but declined this year due to lockdown mandates and economic concerns.

  • - For major REITs, the trailing four-quarter turnover rate was 48.7% in Q1, down 120 basis points (bps) from a year ago and 560 bps from five years ago.

  • - The South and West regions typically have higher turnover rates. By property type, Class A assets typically have higher rates.