Job loss, medical emergencies, and other hardships rarely offer a heads up before their unwelcome arrival. Not knowing when you will find a new job, have improved health, or overcome other obstacles is stressful. During difficult times, hiding under a blanket and ignoring financial issues might sound incredible, but a plan of action is needed quickly to avoid eviction.
Work with your Landlord
Landlords also have bills to pay and often have a desire to keep their renters. Costs of preparing a unit for new renters, vacancy during that time, and advertising all add up quickly. Landlords would prefer to keep current renters and will often work with them to help this happen. Can you pay part of the rent when due? Would you be able to set up a payment plan to cover the month’s rent over time? In either case, talking honestly with your landlord before the rent is due is essential. If the financial hardship appears to be long-lasting, mention that as well.
Other Forms of Assistance
In addition, local and federal assistance programs are available to help renters with financial hardship. Local housing authorities are great places to start looking. There is also currently a national eviction moratorium through December 31, 2020. This moratorium applies to renters who meet specific requirements and has its limitations. For instance, efforts must have been made to seek available government help, partial payments need to be made if possible, and other lease terms must be met. Late fees can still be charged, which will be due at the end of the moratorium, along with any unpaid rent. Paperwork needs to be filed for this program as well.
Renters with financial difficulties can find information for that program, as well as many local and national resources, at justshelter.org. Remember to look for eviction assistance as soon as possible and gather any needed documentation promptly. Most resources need time to process requests for help.
Pay Rent with a Credit Card
Rent can also be paid with a credit card. If the balance can be paid off in full, it can function as an interest-free loan. The fee that you will pay to charge your rent is likely less than you would pay in late fees or a bounced check, so it can be a great option if you need to free up some money for a short period.
Short term personal loans can also be used to avoid eviction, but often have high-interest rates. These can be helpful, especially if the financial hardship will be over quickly, and the loan can be paid back quickly. Interest fees add up fast, so be sure to exhaust all other options to pay rent beforehand. If financial hardship will be long-lasting, a cycle of debt is best avoided.
If health and family permits, renters can look for temporary jobs that can provide needed income. If you have a useful skill, try to find a market for it. Sew masks or costumes to sell, offer tutoring services for school children learning remotely, mow lawns or offer repair services. You can also get in touch with your network of friends or colleagues for income possibilities.
While some industries are scaling back during the pandemic, others need more workers. Delivery services and grocery stores are good places to seek work. Having flexibility with hours you can work (part-time, seasonal, overnight shifts) is useful when searching for a side gig. If you are unemployed, also seek out services to improve your job skills and resume.
Better Days are Ahead
Avoiding an eviction can seem like a daunting task, but can be done. A great place to start is being a good renter. Before any hardships, pay rent on time and follow the rules outlined in the lease. Landlords appreciate honest renters, and positive landlord-renter relationships can help with discussions regarding payment options. Make sure to take action as soon as possible. Talk to your landlord, research, fill out any needed paperwork, and hopefully, better days are on their way.