Economics/Class Relations

April Fool!

Just send the landlord an envelope with a note saying, “I bet you thought this envelope was going to contain my rent check. April Fool!”

What happens on the first of the month when residents, restaurants, and retail stores don’t pay rent?

By Henry Grabar


In a pandemic, the rent eats last.

That seems to be the desperate consensus as a growing number of residential tenants, small businesses, and national chains, in a game of chicken with nervous landlords, prepares to withhold rent for the month of April.

More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, five times as many claims as the previous weekly record set in October 1982. Even so, that statistic understates how much money people aren’t making, because it doesn’t count undocumented workers, gig economy or freelance workers, or people who have been laid off but haven’t filed. Finally, all those numbers are from last week—before shelter-in-place orders had been issued in New York, California, and Illinois.

The astonishing job loss hints at the revenue crisis in restaurants, where data from Open Table shows restaurant reservations declining 100 percent in the United States since last year, and in retail, where many stores have been forced to close indefinitely. According to a 2016 JPMorgan study, the median independent retailer has enough cash to last 19 days; the median independent restaurant has enough for 16 days.


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