As of September 4, 2020, an executive order has put a halt on evictions. This moratorium is about to expire June 31. If your situation is dire and you face eviction due to COVID-19 related problems, contact a lawyer immediately.
To learn more about this Order’s specifications, read our full article here.
It’s not uncommon for tenants to be short on rent. We all have unexpected costs and expenses that can prevent us from being able to cover all our expenses. Things like accidents, a family emergency, or just a slow week at work can all impact your paycheck. If you can’t pay your rent in full or on time, don’t panic. There’s no reason to take extreme measures like selling your car. Today, we’re going to share the advice our experts recommend on what to do if you can’t pay rent.
Be open and honest with your landlord
The worst thing you could do is hope your landlord won’t notice you haven’t paid, and hope that the problem will go away on its own. Some tenants will attempt to send their landlord a check they know that will bounce, but this will further comprise your situation. The best thing you can do if you cannot pay rent is to be honest with your landlord.
It might seem like a bad idea to tell your landlord you can’t pay rent, but it’s actually your best solution. If you’re a good tenant, your landlord’s first instinct will not be to evict you. Evicting tenants can be a complicated and expensive process. However, if you do try to hide or avoid the situation, you risk angering your landlord and affecting your relationship and trust with them. Your landlord can also charge you additional fees if you send them an bounced check or don’t pay altogether.
What you should say to your landlord
When you contact your landlord about your predicament, make sure to be polite and respectful. Most landlords will be understanding of your situation, even if they are inconvenienced and annoyed. Start by writing your landlord about your situation and why you’re having issues paying your rent for the month. Having this interaction in writing will also ensure that you have record of any agreements that are made. Emphasize that this is only a temporary situation and that you want to be a good, proactive tenant. Be sure to do this as soon as possible to give your landlord plenty of notice. After you’ve explained everything to your landlord, come up with a solution you and your landlord can agree upon. This may include:
- Offering to pay what you can until your next paycheck.
- Informing your landlord on when you get paid and seeing if they can temporarily adjust the rent due date.
- Extending your rent to be added to the next month.
Check your leasing or tenancy agreement to see if there’s an additional charge for late payments. Don’t be surprised if your landlord charges you or takes a portion of your damage deposit. What’s important to remember is that as a good tenant, you will still owe your landlord all of your rent.
When can your landlord evict you
Your landlord can legally evict you for nonpayment of rent. This is why you need to inform your landlord if you will be late with rent payments. Failure to do so will result in you being evicted. As we mentioned before, your landlord will generally avoid evicting you if you’re a good tenant. However, there are 3 reasons your landlord can legally evict you.
Pay Rent or Quit Notices
This eviction notice is the result of your failure to pay rent. This is not the same thing as if you cannot pay rent on time, or a late payment. If you are late paying rent, let your landlord know as soon as possible and follow our tips. After you have received this notice, you will have 3-5 days to evacuate your home.
Cure or Quit Notices
This eviction notice is the result of a tenancy agreement violation. Let’s say your tenancy agreement states that your property does not allow pets, but you decide to get a cat. A landlord can send you a cure or quit eviction notice which will state that you have a set time to “cure” the violation, such as finding a new home for your cat. If you cannot find a cure for the breach of contract, you must vacate the premises.
Unconditional Quit Notices
This is the harshest eviction. It states that tenants must vacate the property with no acceptions and as soon as possible. Depending on your state, the amount of time tenants have to leave a property can differ. Most states will allow can unconditional quit notice if a tenant has:
- Repeatedly violated the lease or rental agreement
- Seriously damaged the property or decreased its value
- Participated in illegal or dangerous activity on the property
- Has been late or failed to pay rent on multiple occasions
Be sure to check your state’s laws on the eviction process if your landlord has sent an eviction notice. You have rights as a tenant that ensure that you are allowed to remain in your home if your landlord does unlawfully evict you.
Be open and honest with your landlord when it comes to your rent payments. If you have questions on what rights you have as a tenant or would like to know what legal action you can take if you are evicted.