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What If I Can't Pay My Rent Because Of COVID?

COVID-19 rendered countless people unemployed due to the global economic downturn, and even more of them became financially destabilized. This made it tricky for a large portion of the populace to keep up with the ever-piling bills, including the rent. While the state and federal governments took some measures to protect tenants from being evicted in the aftermath of COVID-19, many of them have been withdrawn. 

Thankfully, there are still some emergency bans in place which could help you out if you find yourself unable to pay your rent because of COVID-19. Read on to know what you can do to remove your landlord off your back and buy yourself some time to gather the money.

Use The Applicable Eviction Stays or Moratoriums 

As we mentioned, the state and federal governments imposed certain emergency bans that protected tenants from abrupt evictions on delayed payment of rent. It's likely that your region of residence still has certain moratoriums on eviction in place, which you can take advantage of to buy yourself some time. Although, it should be noted that these regulations may not exempt you from the penalty fee that the landlord may impose on you for paying the rent late, especially if it was explicitly mentioned on the lease you signed. 

Also, it's important to keep in mind that as soon as the moratorium ends, your landlord may be well within their right to file a notice of eviction for all the unpaid rent. So the regulations should not be taken for granted, and all the efforts must be made to keep up with the pending rents each month as much as possible to stay afloat. 

Review The Lease For A Hardship Clause 

Your lease would likely consist of a clause that speaks of an early end to the tenancy if you're going through some hardship and cannot pay the rent due to financial distress. COVID-19 is an apt reason to take advantage of the clause to wriggle yourself out of this tough situation. Until you find yourself financially stable again, you could move to a cheaper place without having to pay the penalty, in some cases.

To check whether you can use this clause or not, review your lease closely. A word of warning, though, keep other references under your belt while you go apartment hunting. Your landlord might be unwilling to give you a good recommendation with you using the hardship clause. You might need other tools to win the favor of your next prospective landlord. 

Speak To The Landlord 

It's no secret that the common people took the brunt of the COVID-19 situation and the economic downturn it led to. If you're lucky enough, your landlord might be willing to hear your case and strike an agreement with you. 

You could ask your landlord to give you some relief in the rent payment, in any way possible, especially if you're out of a job now but are hoping to find a new one soon. You could choose any of the following arrangements or come up with your own that serves both you and your landlord. 

  • You could ask their permission to skip the next month's rent and repay it in installments in the successive six months or any number of months that you're comfortable with. 
  • You could ask for a temporary cut in the rent. If you've had a good relationship with your landlord, the chances are that they might grant this privilege. It's certainly worth a shot.
  • You could consider paying more frequent portions of rent at a lower amount, rather than a lump sum at the end of the month.

Be sure to take it down in writing whatever agreement you come to with your landlord. Just your or your landlord's word won't hold water in court. 

Other Alternatives 

If everything else fails, you could probe into some other options that you can use for temporary relief. Here are some options that are worth looking into. 

Rental Assitance Programs

There are some state and national rental assistance programs that you could take advantage of. Emergency Rental Assistance Program is one such scheme that could help you out. You can check whether or not you qualify for the scheme and work your way from there. Do some research and see if there are any other schemes you could use, perhaps on the local or state level. 

Unemployment Benefits

You could try gathering money from other sources such as unemployment compensation benefits to make up for the rent if you lost your job due to the pandemic. If you ran a small business and were forced to halt your operations to the economic downturn, you could check the Small Business Association loan terms. See if you're eligible for this kind of loan and could use the financial assistance from the scheme.

More Careful Budgeting

If everything else is out of the question, you would need to manage your funds more carefully to save for rent and see if your landlord can be a bit flexible with the rent till the time you're back on your feet again.