Whether you own or lease a home, housing expenses can easily be the costliest bill you have to worry about each month. It can be scary if you know you won’t be able to make the rent—you could be hit with late fees, or if you’re extremely late, you could possibly be facing an eviction. Even though some landlords offer a little flexibility when it comes to payment deadlines, you might need more time. If you know you’ll be late with the rent, the following tips can help:
Don’t avoid the situation
Ignoring the fact that your rent is late will just make matters worse. Dodging phone calls from your landlord and continuing to live in your apartment with the rent unpaid is not the way to go. You’ll also want to avoid just abandoning your home and moving out without notice if the rent has become too much to handle. Not only will this ruin your credit, but it will make it very difficult to get approved for rental housing in the future.
Speak to your landlord
Not only should you avoid ignoring your landlord if you’ll be late with rent, but you should be the one to initiate contact. As soon as you know you won’t be able to pay the rent, contact your landlord and explain the situation. If you’re experiencing a financial hardship—for example, a job loss—your landlord may be sympathetic and extend your payment deadline without penalty. If you’ve always been a good tenant and paid rent on time, you have a chance at working something out, but communication is key.
Pay what you can
Even if you can’t afford to pay the rent on time, at least make an effort to pay whatever amount you can. Even if it’s a small amount, it shows your landlord that you’re trying to pay what you can. Your landlord will appreciate any amount of money, rather than no money at all.
Pay early next time
When you speak to your landlord, offer to make it up to him or her once you’re back on your feet again. Try to pay your next month’s rent a bit early, or if possible, pay a couple months in advance to make up for being late and to gain your landlord’s trust and confidence again.
Put an agreement in writing
If your landlord manages a big apartment community or has several other tenants, they’ve heard all the excuses before. While a landlord may certainly empathize with your situation and cut you a break the first time you’re late with rent, at the end of the day, a lease is a legal contract and you’re obligated to fulfill your end of it. If you and your landlord worked out an agreement to make your upcoming rent payment more affordable, put it in writing. This shows your landlord that you’re serious about making sure you get the rent to them, and also protects you.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.