Rent is a major expense for many households, and with the increasing cost of living in many cities, it can be difficult to keep up with the payments. Unfortunately, around 15% of Americans, or 6 million people, are behind on their rent. Individuals between the ages of 40 and 54 seem to struggle the most with paying rent.
If you are facing financial difficulties and can’t pay your rent on time, here are some tips on what to do and what to avoid.
1. Communicate with Your Landlord
The first step in dealing with a late rent payment is to have a conversation with your landlord. They are counting on your rent to pay the mortgage on the property, and avoiding the issue will only make it worse in the long run. Read your lease carefully and prepare for the conversation by understanding your rights and responsibilities.
Be polite and explain your situation truthfully. If your financial difficulties are temporary, be sure to let your landlord know. Offer to make partial payments or work out a new payment plan. Be prepared to pay a late fee and be willing to negotiate a solution that is fair for both parties.
2. Get It in Writing
Once you and your landlord have come to an agreement, make sure to put it in writing to protect both parties.
3. Avoid Bouncing Checks
Sending a check that you know will bounce is not only irresponsible but also illegal in most states. Bouncing checks can also lead to additional fees and in some cases, eviction. It is always better to be upfront about your financial problems and negotiate a payment plan with your landlord.
4. Prioritize Your Payments
If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, prioritize your bills. Shelter and food should come first, followed by credit card companies, schools, and insurance providers. Some healthcare providers may allow you to extend medical payments over time, and nonprofit hospitals may approve long-term payment arrangements with small monthly payments.
5. Seek Help from Charitable and Government Organizations
There are various organizations and agencies that can offer assistance with paying rent, such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Jewish Human Services Agencies, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Modest Needs, Emergency Rental Assistance, local churches, and state agencies.
6. Reevaluate Your Budget
If you are constantly struggling to pay your rent, take a closer look at your budget and expenses. Cut back on streaming services, gym memberships, subscriptions, and eating out. If you have credit card debt, negotiate with the credit card companies for smaller minimum payments. Consider increasing your income through a side hustle or obtaining a deferment on your federal student loan.
7. Apply for a Loan
If temporary financial difficulties are causing you to struggle with rent payments, consider applying for a loan. There are various options available, including personal loans, payday loans, and short-term loans. Be aware of the interest rates and fees associated with these loans and make sure you understand the terms and conditions before applying.
8. Consider Moving to a More Affordable Home
If you are struggling with rent payments consistently, it may be time to consider moving to a more affordable home. Look for homes in areas with a lower cost of living, or consider downsizing to a smaller home.