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Can’t Pay Rent Right Now? Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts

Not being able to pay the rent is a common theme that hits most people at least once in their lives.

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Coming up short on your rent can sometimes be the most lonely feeling in the world. You don’t want to let your landlord down, especially if you promised to be the perfect tenant. More importantly, you don’t want to lose the roof over your head.

What can you do when you don’t have money for the rent, though? What are the best practices to keep your housing and keep your landlord satisfied until you can come up with the cash to pay? Let’s look at that now.

The Dos and Don’ts When You Can’t Pay Your Rent

Do: Address the issue.

If there’s one way to make your housing issue worse, it’s avoiding the fact that you can’t pay rent. No matter how far you push that reality to the back of your head, your landlord won’t forget. And once the rent is due, they will wonder where their payment is.

The good news is that you probably won’t be the first tenant who has payment issues, nor the last. Your landlord likely has experience with this problem, and it’s how you handle it that will determine how they treat you as a tenant.

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If you know you won’t be able to pay on time, ask your landlord for an extension. The sooner you do this, the better. Make your request in writing to appear professional.

There’s no need to write your letter from scratch, as a rent hardship letter template can give you a guide that just needs to be filled in with your information. You can find such a template rather easily online.

In your rent hardship letter, you’ll have to explain why you need an extension. Is it due to job loss? Have unexpected medical expenses piled up?

Whatever the reason, explain them in detail and be sure to emphasize that they are temporary. Describe all the steps you’re taking to solve the issue, so they know it won’t happen again. This can include moves like:

  • Searching for a second job.
  • Going on job interviews.
  • Applying for loans.

If possible, offer to pay a portion of the rent on time. Give the landlord an exact date when the rest of the rent will be paid, and be sure to follow up on your promise.

A late fee may be necessary per your contract. You can avoid this if this is your first time requesting an extension by reminding your landlord that you’ve always paid on time.

Do: Be courteous.

When you signed your lease, you promised to pay a certain amount on a specific day each month. Since you’ll need a favor of an extension, postponement, or waived fees, remember this when communicating with your landlord.

Be courteous and avoid getting in any heated arguments, no matter how stressed you may be. The smoother your request, the more likely your landlord will accept it.

Don’t: Avoid your landlord.

Ignoring or avoiding contact with your landlord will only worsen the issue. They will know that you’re avoiding them, and this will make them less likely to give you leeway.

Unless you’re okay with being evicted or having more issues down the line, have an open line of communication with your landlord.

Don’t: Send a check that will bounce.

If you know there’s no money in your account, don’t send a check that will bounce with the hopes that it’ll buy you some time.

Should the check bounce, you will only upset your landlord even more and tarnish your reputation as a good tenant. You could also incur a bounced check penalty that will increase your debt to the landlord even more.

Jonah Jacobs