Home COVID-19 What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent

What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent


What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent

You may have seen the recent report that more than 40 percent of Americans are at risk of eviction, and we’re currently in a scary situation for tenants around the country.

The eviction moratorium ended last month, the second stimulus talks failed, and Donald Trump’s executive order on evictions and housing basically isn’t doing anything. Check out this link for more on Trump’s executive order.

Don’t want to read? Watch the video here!

And beyond that, the CARES Act eviction moratorium didn’t even apply to everybody!  It only applied to those who participate in federal housing assistance programs or live in a property with a federally-backed mortgage.

So if you’ve missed rent or you’re not going to be able to make rent in the near future, the most important thing is to come up with a plan and act quickly. This article is going to be all about those first steps and the resources you should be aware of as a tenant.

Laws and regulations vary widely between states

Now one issue with writing an article on this topic is that different states treat landlords and tenants very differently. In some places, New York for example, you can actually apply for rental relief if you meet certain conditions.

For their program you need to have had an income under 80 percent of the median in your area both on March 1st and when you send in your application. You also have to be putting at least 30 percent of your income toward rent and have lost income due to COVID-19.

Look into rent relief programs in your state, county or city to see what’s available. There could also be private charities working to support tenants monetarily or with pro bono legal services.

Every lease is different

Another important factor to consider is the specific language of your lease, since different landlords have very different terms and requirements.

For example, you may be allowed to pay rent for a certain period after the beginning of the month with no penalty, and there may be a specific late fee if you can’t pay on time.

You want to be 100 percent clear on all the relevant information before you start taking action.

Is the eviction moratorium still in effect?

The same thing is true for evictions, your landlord may or may not be able to start the eviction process depending on where you live and your specific circumstances including the terms of your lease.

The federal government’s moratorium on evictions, which applied to people living in a building covered by a mortgage backed by the government, expired on July 24th.

Even then, they’ll need to give you 30 days of notice before evicting you, so you’ll actually have at least until August 24th.

Until Congress acts on this or until something comes of all the various suggestions in Trump’s recent executive order on evictions, any additional protection against eviction would have to come from your state, county, or municipal government.

Understanding evictions in your state

Here in California, for example, the eviction ban was originally set to last for 90 days after the coronavirus emergency, which is obviously still ongoing, but a report recently came out that the state Supreme Court could take action to end it as soon as August 14th.

Of course the state legislature could step back in and create new guidelines, but it’s hard to say what that would look like or when legislation would be passed. Some states haven’t taken any steps beyond the moratorium set by the federal government, but even in those states certain counties and cities have their own regulations.

So this is an ongoing development around the country as governments at all levels try to come up with the right response to the economic and public health ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

That being said, they can’t evict you immediately, and again that process depends on where you live. In New York, your landlord has to give you at least 30 days’ notice if you’ve been living there for less than one year, 60 days’ if you’ve been living there for between one and two years, and 90 days if you’ve lived there for more than two years.

A tenants’ rights group called Eviction Lab has some excellent information about protections in different states, and you can use this link if you want to look at their COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard.

Some landlords will try to evict tenants illegally to get around those restrictions, and unfortunately renters who don’t know their rights tend to make easy targets for illegal evictions.

Avoiding court

But even though it’s good to know the laws in your state, the reality is that neither you nor your landlord really wants to go to court. This isn’t to say that your landlord won’t be willing to evict you, or that they’ll let you pay rent whenever you want, or even that you should never consider litigation, but it’s usually better for both sides to come to an agreement on their own.

Technically they could sue you for unpaid rent after evicting you, but the reality is that if you don’t have the full rent now, you probably won’t have it then either, and they’ll end up spending a lot of money on legal fees for not much of a return.

Keep in mind that millions of people are struggling to make rent around the country right now, and it isn’t exactly easy to fill an apartment at the usual price when so many people are in dire straits. Your landlord would much rather get something than nothing, and you probably don’t want to be evicted.

Of course some cases will end up in court, that’s inevitable, but in most circumstances you want to do everything in your power to avoid that outcome.

Strength in numbers

At this point you might be expecting me to tell you to start by talking to your landlord, but I actually don’t think that’s always the best advice. Especially in times like these when financial trouble is so common, working together with other tenants in your building is sometimes the most effective option.

Now if your landlord has laid out their expectations and everyone in the building seems pretty much OK with that, then maybe you need to talk to the landlord directly.

But there’s a good chance that your neighbors are in a very similar situation, and there’s always strength in numbers.

Advocating for your rights as a renter is much easier when you have a group of tenants working together, and you’ll also be able to provide other types of mutual aid as people struggle with these circumstances.

Some people in your building may not know as much about renting, they might not understand the eviction process, so sharing information, sharing supplies, just generally supporting each other goes a long way.

There may also be tenants’ unions or other support groups in your area, particularly if you live in a major city, so don’t forget to check out those resources.

Some tenants group up with neighbors in their building as well as with people who live in other buildings owned by the same landlord, and again, the more you organize the better you’ll be able to prepare for any disputes or court cases.

Think about it this way—if you tell your landlord that you won’t be able to pay unless they cut the rent by 25% for the remainder of the crisis, they might not have much of an incentive to work with you. But if he or she hears the same thing from all the tenants in the building, or even better, all the tenants in multiple buildings, well you’ll just have a lot more leverage when it’s time to negotiate.

You’ll also have a better chance of pooling money together if the case ends up in court. So before you talk to your landlord, and especially before you commit to anything, you should make an effort to talk to the rest of the tenants in your building.

Talk to your landlord

From there the next step should typically be letting your landlord know about your situation.

Again this is easier if you have other tenants with you, but either way you want to be as transparent as possible. Let them know where you’re at, what you’ll be able to pay now, and what you expect in the future.

Put it in writing

It’s really important to have a written record of conversations with your landlord, so make sure to do this over text, email, something you’ll be able to refer back to later on. If they do agree to something, you’ll be able to hold them to that agreement later on.

It will always come down to your word against theirs if you don’t have something on paper, so you should always avoid negotiating over the phone or even by talking in person unless you bring a  written proposal for them to sign.

Landlords know what people are dealing with right now, and in my experience they’re willing to work with people who are willing to work with them. Of course every landlord is different and some aren’t going to engage with you, but it’s always worth trying to negotiate directly.

If things escalate later on you’ll have a record of your attempts to work with your landlord, and under the circumstances landlords won’t look good in court if they didn’t make an effort to meet in the middle.

Don’t promise too much, don’t put yourself in a position where you won’t be able to make rent again next month and you’re stuck in the same situation. Just be very open and tell them how much you could realistically pay moving forward.

Now in an ideal scenario at this point, your landlord understands, maybe they received forbearance on the mortgage, they can cut you a little slack. In that case just stick to the plan, keep updating them if anything changes, and do your best to make regular payments.

If possible, pay your rent in certified checks so you have a record of when and how much you paid.

Fighting evictions

On the other hand, and again hopefully this doesn’t happen in your case, but your landlord isn’t legally obligated to accept reduced rent, and they may try to move forward with an eviction whenever that’s possible in your area.

Being evicted is obviously a scary situation, especially right now, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Evictions are heavily backed up in many places right now, housing courts may not even be fully reopened yet, so you have time and you have resources. But it’s even more important to move quickly when your landlord is taking legal action to remove you from your residence.

The first thing you want to do is get in touch with a lawyer who specializes in evictions and tenants’ rights, again free legal services are available in some places, but even if that’s not an option it may be worth paying a lawyer if you think you have a case.

So again there’s no one-size-fits-all way to fight an eviction, especially with readers from around the country and even around the world. Ultimately it’s going to come down to the laws and regulations in your area.

Here in California, for example, you can legally withhold rent if there’s an issue in your building or your unit that makes it uninhabitable. This depends on the value of the repairs, but you could get a significant reduction in rent if you’re able to prove that there’s a serious problem that the landlord hasn’t addressed, especially if you can document that they’ve failed to respond to your requests.

In some cases, the tenants actually file a lawsuit against the landlord rather than waiting to fight back against an eviction.

But I’m not an expert, I can’t provide legal advice. Just get in touch with a lawyer, let them know what’s happening, and see if they think there’s anything you can do.

Thanks for reading to the end of the article, there’s a lot to cover here, and I could probably write several more pieces on this topic but hopefully this cleared up some of your questions. Again so much of standing up for yourself as a tenant depends on your unique circumstances, so there’s only so much I can write that will apply to everyone.

Of course, stay tuned right here on Money Done Right and my YouTube channel for updates on this and other issues that affect your financial life. If you’ve seen my recent stimulus updates, you know that help probably won’t come through Congress, at least not right now.

Who knows, we just have to hope that Congress will pull through for the people. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen right now, but hopefully at some point in the future.


  1. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Very useful information particularly the remaining phase 🙂 I take care of such info a lot. I used to be seeking this particular info for a long timelong time. Thank you and good luck.

  2. A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but usually people don’t discuss such topics. To the next! Cheers!!

  3. Howdy I am so excited I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Digg for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a remarkable post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the excellent job.

  4. Hi terrific blog! Does running a blog similar to this take a great deal of work? I have very little knowledge of computer programming but I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, if you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off topic nevertheless I just had to ask. Thank you!

  5. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  6. I believe what you postedtypedthink what you postedwrotesaidthink what you postedtypedsaidbelieve what you postedwroteWhat you postedwrotesaid was very logicala bunch of sense. But, what about this?think about this, what if you were to write a killer headlinetitle?content?wrote a catchier title? I ain’t saying your content isn’t good.ain’t saying your content isn’t gooddon’t want to tell you how to run your blog, but what if you added a titleheadlinetitle that grabbed a person’s attention?maybe get people’s attention?want more? I mean %BLOG_TITLE% is a little vanilla. You might peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they createwrite post headlines to get viewers interested. You might add a video or a related pic or two to get readers interested about what you’ve written. Just my opinion, it could bring your postsblog a little livelier.

  7. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  8. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appeal. I must say you have done a awesome job with this. Also, the blog loads very quick for me on Safari. Outstanding Blog!

  9. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  10. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  11. Hello there, simply turned into aware of your blog thru Google, and found that it is really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate in case you continue this in future. A lot of other people shall be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  12. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. Nevertheless think about if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this site could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its niche. Amazing blog!

  13. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back from now on. I want to encourage one to continue your great writing, have a nice day!

  14. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

  15. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  16. My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on several websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform. I have heard excellent things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it? Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  17. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

  18. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I was very pleased to discover this web site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new stuff on your web site.

  20. This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  21. My brother suggested I might like this blog. He used to be totally right. This publish actually made my day. You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  22. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  23. I used to be recommended this website by way of my cousin. I am not positive whether this post is written via him as no one else realize such specified approximately my difficulty. You are amazing! Thank you!

  24. When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

  25. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  26. Hello very nice blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds also? I am satisfied to find numerous useful information here in the submit, we’d like develop more strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  27. Hey! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Cheers!

  28. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Very useful information particularly the final phase 🙂 I deal with such info a lot. I used to be seeking this particular info for a long timelong time. Thank you and good luck.

  29. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  30. It is perfect time to make a few plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy. I have read this submit and if I may just I want to suggest you few fascinating things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles relating to this article. I wish to read more things approximately it!

  31. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e mail.

  32. Hey! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Thanks!

  33. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I’m hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own website now 😉

  34. Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Cheers

  35. Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is actually a wonderful website.

  36. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appearance. I must say you have done a very good job with this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Chrome. Superb Blog!

  37. Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and amazing style and design.

  38. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  39. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  40. Hi there, I found your blog by the use of Google at the same time as searching for a similar matter, your web site got here up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  41. I will immediately grab your rss feed as I can’t find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  42. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  43. This is very fascinating, You are an excessively professional blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in search of more of your wonderful post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks

  44. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this in my search for something relating to this.

  45. سایت فروش فرش فرشیما از فروشگاه های اینترنتی است که فعالیت خود را از سال 1390 آغاز کرده و مرغوب ترین فرش کاشان را به مشتریان گرانقدر ارائه می دهد. خریداران عزیز می توانند انواع قالی کاشان را با الیاف گوناگون همچون بی سی اف، ورژن، اکریلیک و پلی پروپیلن را خریداری کنند و جلوه ای زیبا برای دکوراسیون خود رقم زنند؛ همچنین باید بگوییم که امکان ثبت سفارش فرش کاشان با ابعاد غیر استاندارد و استاندارد شش متری، نه متری و دوازده متری برای مشتریان عزیز می باشد تا بتوانند با توجه به ابعاد دکوراسیونشان انتخابی دقیق و هوشمندانه داشته باشند. اگر انتخاب فرش کاشان از بین دنیایی از طرح و رنگ برایتان سخت و دشوار است. می توانید عکس از محیطتان برای کارشناسان مجموعه فرش فرشیما ارسال کنید و فرش را به صورت پهن شده در فضا مشاهده کنید. اینکار باعث می شود تا مشتریان بتوانند خریدی آگاهانه داشته باشند و از جلوه ی بی نظیر بافته ی ماشینی تا سالیان سال رضایت داشته باشند.

  46. hello there and thanks to your information – I have certainly picked up anything new from proper here. I did then again experience a few technical points using this site, as I skilled to reload the site a lot of times previous to I may get it to load correctly. I have been thinking about if your web hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, however slow loading cases times will very frequently affect your placement in google and can injury your high quality rating if ads and ***********|advertising|advertising|advertising and *********** with Adwords. Anyway I am including this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot extra of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you replace this once more soon..

  47. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  48. I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this information So i¦m glad to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I most indisputably will make sure to don¦t put out of your mind this web site and give it a look regularly.

  49. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I’m hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming also. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own web site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  50. Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your website is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and just could not come across. What a perfect web-site.

  51. I?¦ve been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this info So i?¦m satisfied to express that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I such a lot certainly will make certain to do not overlook this web site and give it a look regularly.

  52. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  53. hey there and thank you for your info – I’ve definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using this site, as I experienced to reload the site a lot of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

  54. With every little thing that appears to be building within this particular subject matter, a significant percentage of points of view are actually somewhat radical. However, I am sorry, but I can not give credence to your entire idea, all be it exciting none the less. It would seem to me that your opinions are generally not entirely justified and in simple fact you are yourself not really fully certain of your point. In any event I did take pleasure in reading it.

  55. After research a couple of of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site listing and can be checking back soon. Pls try my website online as effectively and let me know what you think.

  56. Thanks for your whole work on this web page. My aunt enjoys going through research and it is easy to see why. Most people learn all about the dynamic means you create great ideas on the web site and as well inspire contribution from the others on this theme so our own simple princess is really starting to learn a lot of things. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year. You’re conducting a first class job.

  57. Hey There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. This is a very smartly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  58. Terrific paintings! That is the type of info that are meant to be shared around the web. Disgrace on the seek engines for now not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and visit my site . Thank you =)

  59. Fantastic site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get advice from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here