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What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a financially difficult time for millions of Americans. Many people are still out of work, and some still have not received their stimulus checks, so there is some uncertainty surrounding whether they will be able to afford next month’s rent. So what can you do if you can’t pay rent?

can't pay rent

Rearrange your budget.

This may seem fairly obvious, but the first step should be to rearrange your budget. Find areas where you may be able to cut back, and put that money towards rent. For example, if you’ve been making payments on your credit cards to aggressively pay down debt, you may want to shift your priorities for the time being. Make smaller payments on your debt, and focus on being able to afford the necessities right now.

Communicate with you landlord.

The most important thing to do is to communicate with your landlord. Talk to them as soon as you know you won’t be able to afford the rent. Don’t just stop paying with no explanation. That could result in you getting evicted, and potentially having issues finding a new place to live when the next landlord does a background check. See if you can work out a payment plan, such as paying only part of your rent this month, and then making up for it later when you start working again.

Know what protections your state has in place.

A handful of states still have eviction moratoriums in place, but many of them are set to expire at the end of this month or next month. This means you might be okay for the next few weeks if you can’t pay rent.. Some cities may have additional protections. Check your state or city government website to see if they have any information regarding protection for renters.

Sell old items.

Many people have taken advantage of their extra time at home to organize and get rid of items they no longer need. This can be a great opportunity to make some extra cash if you can’t pay rent. You can put old clothes, furniture, or other items you no longer use on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay to make money to put towards your rent payments. It might not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps.

Final tips:

As a rule of thumb, your housing expenses should not exceed 35% of your income. Keep this in mind if you are currently searching for a new apartment. For example, if you make $2,500 a month, your rent shouldn’t be more than $875. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you live in an expensive city, like New York or L.A. If you can’t find a place that is within your budget, find other areas of your budget where you can cut back.

If you are struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Call 800-769-3571 today to speak to one of our certified credit counselors.

ABOUT AUTHOR / Madison

Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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