Can’t pay rent?  Join the millions of Americans who are in the same boat.  With unemployment applications through the roof, it is no surprise that many Americans cannot pay their bills.  With all the aid that has been going out as part of the Coronavirus stimulus package, those that are renting are not seeing much in terms of aid.  With that being said, now is not the time to just ignore what is going on with your personal finances.  Speaking with your landlord and explaining your situation may afford you some financial relief.

11 tips for speaking with your landlord if you can’t pay rent

Speak to your landlord right away

If you know that you won’t be able to make the rent, get in touch with your landlord as soon as possible.  You both may be able to come up with a solution that makes financial sense for both parties.  The last thing you want to deal with is an eviction or a report to the credit bureau about delinquent payments.

Know your renters rights

Every state has their own set of laws when it comes to eviction.  Research the laws for your specific area and see what the process is for evictions during this time. You can also check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with information on housing for each state.

In addition, for renters and homeowners,  a temporary moratorium on new filings for foreclosures and evictions due to nonpayment has been instituted for federally subsidized properties.

Arming yourself with the tenant laws in your state will help you figure out your housing situation with peace of mind and also how best to approach the conversation with your landlord.

Don’t forget about how this situation is affecting your landlord

Although your landlord is someone that collects a large lump sum of money from your paycheck every month, they have bills to pay too.  So when it comes to a time like this when everyone is really affected, a little kindness can go a long way. When you get in contact with your landlord, start off the conversation with asking them how they are coping.  Your landlord will appreciate the sentiment and hopefully be more open to working with you.

Come up with realistic solutions if you can’t pay rent

Offering up a solution if you can’t pay rent shows your willingness to work with your landlord.  Here are some ideas:

  • Perhaps you can offer to make a partial payment and then pay the remainder by a certain date.  This could be when your ta refund comes in or your stimulus check.
  • Another option is to ask for a reduction in your rent or permission to skip a month and spread out the remainder over the rest of your lease term.
  • There is also your security deposit.  Perhaps your landlord will allow you to use it for this month’s rent and you can replace it when you are in a better financial place.
  • If you made the last month’s rent payment upfront when you signed the lease, you could ask to have that applied to your next month’s rent.
  • If you have any skills you could offer your landlord, try bartering.  Perhaps you have a green thumb.  You could offer to do the landscaping for a reduction in your rent.

Always get it in writing

If you and your landlord come up with a plan for paying rent, you need to get it in writing.  The last thing you want is to have your landlord come back and say that they didn’t agree to that.  Furthermore, having it in writing also makes the plan clear and helps eliminate misinterpretations of your agreement.

If you are signing an addendum to your lease, do not sign the new paperwork if you don’t understand the verbiage.  Get in touch with a lawyer or contact a tenants rights organization.

Additional solutions if you can’t pay rent

Your landlord may not agree to any of your ideas so you need to have a plan for how you are going to make your rent.  Here are some ideas.

1. Look into housing assistance in your area

Look into local housing assistance.  There are many resources that can help keep you in your home.  The United Way’s 211 network is also a great resource that will connect you with services and resources surrounding everything from housing to food programs.

2. Get a roommate

If there is extra room and your landlord is okay with it, getting a roommate is another option. Just make sure you are careful about who you select.

3. Sell your stuff

If you have things laying around the house that you can sell, you have an easy way to make some extra money.  From clothes to electronics, there are plenty of online sites where you can sell your stuff. Put the money you make towards your rent.

4. Get Another Gig

Although many people are losing jobs and getting laid off, there are companies looking to hire.  Grocers and delivery companies are looking to ramp up with hiring.  Looking for something more flexible?Look into becoming  Uber driver or GrubHub delivery person.  If you have certain skills, there are even more options and you can work from the comfort of your home.  Online tutor, graphic designer, virtual assistant and more.

5. Tap into your retirement fund

If you have no other options, tapping into your 401k is not ideal but may be necessary.  The current CARES act that was put into place waives early withdrawal fees and spreads out any income tax you would owe over the next three years.  This should definitely be a last resort as you would be selling your investments at a loss.