What to do if you’re unable to pay the rent

Category: Housing

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If something unexpected happens—for instance, you lose your job—you may quickly fall behind on monthly expenses, especially if you don’t have an emergency fund. Because rent is often one of the bigger monthly expenses, it can be difficult to come up with this type of money during a financial crisis. Falling behind on rent can result in serious consequences, including late fees, credit implications, and eviction. If the first of the month is coming up and you know you won’t have the money to pay for the rent anytime soon, here’s what you can do:

Don’t ignore the situation

Ignoring the problem will only make things worse, so be upfront with your landlord and explain the situation as soon as you know you won’t be able to make rent. Your landlord may be willing to listen with a sympathetic ear, and may be willing to work with you. However, some landlords (managed communities, in particular) do have strict rent policies and may still impose late fees for late rent. Regardless, honesty is always the best policy and it is better to be the one to confront your landlord about the situation, rather than the other way around.

Don’t try sneaky tactics

If you write out a check each month for your rent, it’s important to avoid any tactics that will help you buy time. For example, some people who are short on cash may write a check in hopes that their landlord will take a couple weeks to cash it, with intentions of having the cash in their bank account by then. But you should never write a check that could potentially bounce. If you don’t have the funds available the same day that you write your check, talk to your landlord. Not only will writing a bad check just aggravate your landlord, but it is also illegal.

Borrow money

If you’ve hit a temporary snag and you just need to borrow cash that you know you’ll be able to pay back, this could potentially help you from losing your apartment. Asking family or close friends to borrow money can be a touchy subject, but if you know someone personally who is willing to help out, you may want to consider asking. Alternatively, if you have decent credit, you may want to consider taking out a small personal loan, which can help get you back on your feet. Whether you borrow from someone you know, or you take out a loan, remember that it’s just a one-time, short-term solution. If you’re temporarily experiencing financial difficulties, the last thing you want to do is get yourself into a lot of debt and make things worse.

Offer partial rent

If you don’t have all of the money you need to make next month’s rent, scrape together what you can and ask your landlord about making a partial payment. You may have to make some sacrifices and get rid of some non-essentials, but the closer you can get to making the rent, the better. Your landlord may be more willing to work with you if you can pay something in the meantime, rather than nothing at all. Promise that once you’re back on your feet, you will pay the rest.

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Tags: leases, monthly payments, rent, roommates

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