What to do When You Can’t Afford Rent

This year has thrown us a lot of curveballs, causing unexpected circumstances and hardships. As we work towards a sense of normalcy, many people are still struggling with their financial situation and affording basic necessities, such as rent. If you’re concerned about the possibility of not being able to pay rent this month, check out these steps to face the problem head on.

Assess the Situation as Early as Possible

Try to figure out ahead of time if you aren’t going to be able to pay your full rent on time this month. The more headway you have to tackle this problem, the better.

Review your other expenses to see if there are places you can move things around. For example:

  • See if you can defer payment on student loans
  • Consider only paying the minimum payment on credit card bills
  • Contact any of your lenders to see if you can get temporary payment deferment for auto or personal loans.
  • Do you have any subscription services (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.) that you can pause for this month to help make up the rent payment?

Determine how much you will be able to pay and when you will be able to pay it. If there are going to be late fees as agreed upon in the lease, plan for those too.

Decide if this is going to be temporary or permanent. Will this be a one-time problem or will it be longer-term? Will you be able to take actions to resolve the problem (i.e. getting a new job or cutting other expenses)? Know all of this information before speaking to your landlord.

Talk to Your Landlord

Try to talk to your landlord sooner rather than later so you’re not surprising them with a missing chunk of income. Make sure your communication is in written form and keep record of it. It is always best to introduce a plan for a solution alongside a problem, so make sure you have an idea prepared. A few solutions could be:

  • Propose to set a new later date at which to pay the unpaid rent
  • Propose a repayment plan for this missed rent alongside your normal rent payments
  • Ask for an adjustment of the lease terms
  • If you have a skill that can be traded – for example: carpentry, landscaping, cleaning, etc.- offer to trade work for some of the rent

Whatever solution you come up with should be recorded in writing and should be very detailed.

Apply for Help if Needed

If you aren’t able to come up with an agreement with your landlord or aren’t able to come up with a long-term solution, start applying for help. If you lost your job, applying for unemployment would be a good place to start. If it is another type of situation, there are various organizations that help you find housing:

  • Your local United Way
  • US Housing and Urban Development National Resources
  • Local and state government housing or social services
  • National Multifamily Housing Council

You could also look around at your local non-profits for other housing assistance based on your situation; for instance, there are specific groups to help women in need, veterans in need, and more.

Prepare for Next Steps

Whether the next steps will be finding a new place to live or finding a way to come up with next month’s rent – start preparing.

If you need new or additional income:

  • Use websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, and LinkedIn to look for new jobs
  • Visit temp agencies like Aerotek, Randstad, and Spherion
  • Keep in contact with your landlord to let him or her know how your situation is evolving
  • Adjust or create your budget to make sure you have adequate money for next month’s rent. You could even meet with a financial counselor to get help with creating a solid budget.

If you need new housing:

  • Schedule a visit with a housing counselor to get tips and solutions for your situation. They may also be able to help you find new housing.
  • Research local agencies and websites to see what housing is being offered for rent in your area

If you’re in a difficult financial situation and you have loans with us, please call our contact center during regular business hours at 888-777-9982 to see how we can help. We are navigating through these uncertain times together! For personal finance tips and more, visit our Learning Center blog on our website.

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