Can't Pay Rent: What To Do & What Happens Next

Jun 29th 2024
Financial struggles can happen to anyone. Whether you’re struggling to find a job or pushing to make a livable wage, it’s all too easy to find yourself in a position where you don’t have enough to pay for the month. If you're unable to pay rent, it's important to take immediate and proactive steps to address the situation.

hash-markTable of Contents

What to Do If You Can't Pay Rent This Month
What Happens If You Can't Pay Rent?
What Not To Do If You Can't Pay Rent
Can't Pay Rent FAQs

hash-markWhat to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent This Month

  1. Notify Your Landlord in Advance
  2. Get Rent Assistance
  3. Consider a Loan

1. Notify Your Landlord in Advance 

If you can’t pay your rent, you need to let your landlord know in advance. Provide a clear explanation of why you can't pay rent and when you expect to be able to resume payments. They can help you with the steps you should take, and you won’t spring this lack of payment on them without warning. If you develop a good relationship with your landlord and are up-front, they will be more understanding of your situation in times of trouble.

2. Get Rent Assistance 

Another thing you should do if you're unable to pay your rent is to seek rent assistance. Several organizations can help you out, from the Salvation Army to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Many offer one-time help to those who find they can’t make enough money for the month.

You should check out this step if you can’t receive help from your landlord. There are plenty of choices, no matter how much assistance you think you might need. Some organizations can help with overdue bills, while others work to cover dues you can’t afford.

3. Consider a Loan

If all else fails, you can consider a loan to cover your fees for that month. You can borrow money from a friend or family member who has extra cash in their pocket and offer to pay them back later. You can also turn to a bank or similar institution if you can’t find anyone close to giving you money.

Ensure you consider the practicality of a loan before asking for one. Sometimes, borrowing money can dig you into an even deeper hole than you were in before. You will need to pay the loaner back for your borrow.

4. Negotiate a Payment Plan

If you are unable to get the rent money together quickly, you should negotiate a payment plan with your landlord. Make sure the payment plan is realistic so that it allows you to pay back overdue rent while not further burdening you. You can also ask if your landlord is willing to temporarily reduce your rent until you’re back on your feet.

5. Know Your Legal Rights

It's also essential to know your legal rights if you can't pay rent. By not paying your rent, you will be in violation of your lease, and your landlord may try to evict you, so you need to understand the eviction process in your state so that you know what protections you have and how the process works. 

6. Consider Moving

If your financial situation isn’t likely to improve soon and you don't see how you can get caught up with unpaid rent, you should consider moving to a less expensive place. Or, to save even more, you can temporarily move in with family or friends for additional financial relief.

hash-markWhat Happens If You Can’t Pay Rent?

1. Your Landlord Might Try to Evict You

One of the first things that can happen if you can't pay rent is that your landlord may try to evict you. This often happens if you haven’t informed your landlord of the situation and worked out a payment plan or solution with them. Failure to pay rent is a breach of the lease. From that moment forward, you will need to find money to cover the rent or move out of the apartment as soon as possible.

2. You Should Consider Getting Assistance

Use one of the resources we mentioned above to look for a way to make up the money. From loans to government assistance, there are ways to deal with an inability to pay for the space you live in. You might even qualify for the moratorium if you live in certain states.

3. You'll Need to Be Responsible

Not being able to pay rent isn’t the end of the world, but you should act as fast as you can to negate the problem. If you don’t, it may quickly spiral out of your control. So it's essential to responsibly think about what's best. The last thing you want to have happen is to be evicted with no place to go. 

hash-markWhat Not To Do If You Can’t Pay Rent 

If you find yourself in a position where you can’t pay rent on time, there are a few things you should not do under any circumstances. These are critical to avoid if you are in financial trouble in your building.

If you can’t pay rent on time, you should not:

  • Ignore the problem and hope that it will magically fix itself as time passes
  • Send a check that has a 100% chance of bouncing
  • Lose hope, because there are plenty of helpful options out there

These are best to avoid if you find you have no way of making ends meet for the month.

It’s always best to find ways to dig yourself out of a hole rather than forming an even deeper ditch. Don’t pass false payments to your landlord, don’t hope it will solve itself, and don’t give up. As they always say - where there’s a will, there’s a way.

hash-markCan't Pay Rent Bottom Line

Not being able to pay rent can be extremely stressful, but it's important that you remain calm and take proactive steps to mitigate the impact. Communicate with your landlord, seek financial assistance, explore additional income sources, and understand your legal rights to navigate this challenging time effectively. Most of the time, your landlord will try to work with you if you can't pay your rent, as they would rather put you on a payment plan and get the money over time than get nothing or have to go to court to evict you.

hash-markCan’t Pay Rent FAQs

What are my rights If I can’t pay rent?

If you can’t pay rent, you need to talk to your landlord. They can start the eviction process right away if you miss a deadline. Some states have an eviction moratorium in place for Covid, while others offer excellent assistance. Ensure you check out your options to find a way to pay rent if you find yourself behind.

Am I required to pay rent? 

You are always legally required to pay unless you agree with your landlord about your status. This is because you are occupying a space owned by someone else, and they need you to make payments so they can survive and keep up with the living space. It’s not cheap to own an apartment or home.

What if I can’t pay rent due to the coronavirus? 

You still need to pay monthly, even in the middle of the pandemic. If you find that you can’t pay for the month, ensure you act right away. Talk to your landlord and come to an agreement or reach out for financial assistance. There are plenty of options out there if you find yourself needing support during this time.

Can missing rent payments affect credit? 

A late rent payment can drastically affect your credit score and, in turn, your hopes of getting an apartment in the future. Most of the time, the higher your score, the more impactful a missed payment can be. It’s critical to keep everything in check to keep your credibility on the market.