What happens if you fail to pay rent? It’s a more popular question than ever in these times of record-breaking unemployment. When you can’t afford rent, whether you’ve fallen on hard times like a sudden loss, a personal emergency, something like a global pandemic, or simply haven’t budgeted your money properly, it’s an extremely stressful situation. Nobody wants to be in a situation where they are unable to pay rent, but sometimes it happens.
Let’s see what to do if you can’t pay rent:
Examine Your Lease Agreement
The first step is to check your lease to see what your legal agreement says about paying rent — sometimes leases will detail your landlord’s options for recourse, such as late fees or about a grace period. This will assist you in determining whether you still have time to pay rent or not.
Have a Conversation with Your Landlord
One of the most important things you can do if you can’t pay rent is to have a conversation with your landlord. These conversations may be difficult at first, keeping an open and honest dialogue with your landlord should provide some clarity and understanding when deciding how to handle the situation. How to Approach Your Landlord About a Late Rent Payment?
- Explain your situation, either in writing, in person, or over the phone, as to why you are unable to pay rent. Make it a point to be specific about your situation and when you will be able to pay rent.
- Provide documentation of your loss of income or other evidence to demonstrate your situation if you have it.
- Inform your landlord when you believe you will be able to make the payment or propose a payment plan in which you will pay the rent portion now and the remainder in installments over some time.
- When you and your landlord reach an agreement, have it in writing as soon as possible.
- Have a conversation before your rent is due, as you will be more likely to reach an agreement with if your landlord have time to prepare.
Examine Your Budget Thoroughly
After you’ve spoken with your landlord and hopefully reached an agreement, the next step is to look over your budget. You might have a difficult financial month or a costly emergency. Regardless of how you got here, it’s a good idea to review your budget to avoid making a late rental payment in the future. Of course, there may be times when you are unable to rearrange your budget and must make difficult decisions between rent and other necessary expenses. In such a case, make sure you notify your landlord. Many landlords are willing to collaborate with their tenants during difficult times to develop some sort of rent payment system or other option.
Look for Places to Get Rent Assistance
If you anticipate being evicted or having your lease terminated, find out what organizations are in your area that can assist you.
Understand Your Renter Protections
Because many cities and states have eviction moratoriums in place or have banned evictions entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, you must understand your rights as a renter in terms of current eviction policies in your area. This means that even if you can’t pay rent, you can’t be evicted for the duration of the moratorium or state guidelines. Make sure you’re also ready to talk about rent payment issues with your landlord and provide proof of financial hardship. Whether or not your landlord offers a rent payment plan, take advantage of available local, national, and federal rent relief programs.
Three things you should never do if you can’t pay rent.
If you have money but your rent payment isn’t due for a few days, it’s not a bad idea to pay rent early. This is advantageous to your landlord-tenant relationship. Alternatively, Don’t delay in contacting your landlord to work out a solution if you know you won’t be able to make the payment this month.
Do not write a check that you know is going to bounce
A bounced check will irritate your landlord immediately, harming your relationship and your chances of renewing your lease in the future. You may also be charged late fees or a bounced check fee.
Don’t lie about your situation
If you’re having trouble paying your rent because of a low income or poor money management, it’s tempting to blame your situation on more “forgiving” factors, such as illness or losing your job. However, this only adds to the difficulty when you need to provide evidence or documentation to back up your claim.
We hope this article helped you understand what to do if you can’t pay rent.