Coronavirus Worries: What Happens If You Can’t Pay Rent?

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If you can’t pay your rent because you’ve been affected by COVID-19, know that you’re not alone. The global pandemic has hit economies across the world. If you’re laid off, sick, or are unable to work, rest assured that there is help available.

From speaking to your landlord to applying for unemployment, if you’re unable to pay rent and other bills, we have answers. Here’s a go-to guide for what to do if you can’t pay rent this month because of COVID-19.

Talk to Your Landlord

The first thing you should do if your work has been affected by COVID-19 is to talk to your landlord, suggests Property owners and managers know the situation and know that many are struggling financially. The worst thing you can do is leave your landlord in the dark.

Speak openly with your landlord about what you do for a living. Explain how you are unable to work, and that you want to come up with a plan. Whether that plan involves filing for unemployment or applying got short term loans online, you both will be more comfortable with a plan in place. 

If you’re worried about talking to your landlord, Fannie Mae has resources to help you make arrangements. In most states, during this crisis, you’re also protected from eviction. To confirm the grace period check your local state or county’s website for details. 

You can ask your landlord about paying rent late, getting a rent extension, or making partial payments until you can resume work. Remember that it’s best, to be honest about your finances.

Apply for Unemployment

If you’re unable to pay your bills and earn an income, unemployment assistance may be able to help. Unemployment is a resource provided by the government to help people through emergencies such as this.

The U.S. government has made it a lot easier to qualify for unemployment by releasing certain restrictions at the state level. This is designed to put money into people’s hands quickly and with less red tape.

To apply, head to your individual state’s unemployment website. Make sure you block off a couple of hours to complete the application process. Have your basic information with you to speed things up. Note that because of the surge in applicants, the wait times may be longer than normal.

Using unemployment benefits can help bridge the gap while you’re waiting to return to work. You can use these benefit payments to pay rent, get up to date on your other bills, and for essentials such as food.

Make a Budget

The key to staying afloat during this crisis is to make a budget. If you don’t have a budget already, being stuck at home is a great time to start one.

You can write down all your essential bills such as student loans, rent, and utilities. Estimate how much you spend on groceries and insurance, and your car payment as well. These figures can help you come up with a short-term financial plan.

If you see you have subscriptions you aren’t using, now is a great time to start canceling those. There are probably some things you’re paying for you aren’t using anymore. Do some finance homework and see how lean you can get your bills until you’re able to return to work.

Make Additional Calls

In terms of your other bills, you’ll want to start calling places like your cycle studio, your utility companies, and your cell phone provider. As you go through savings and wait for unemployment, it is important you speak with these people instead of just missing payments.

When you speak to these companies, you can explain your situation and see what assistance they have available. In most states, utility companies are ceasing shutoffs until the crisis is over. Many banks and other services are also allowing you to pause payments if necessary, for a few months.

Know that everyone is in the same boat. This crisis is a struggle for everyone and companies are prepared to work with you and make arrangements for payments.

COVID-19 Stimulus Package

There has recently been a COVID-19 stimulus bill that has been put into place to help give relief to those affected by the pandemic. This bill will help healthcare providers, hospitals, those out of work, and more during this unprecedented time.

Americans who qualify will be given an amount based on annual income as well as their number of dependents. To see how these funds will be disbursed on a national and state level, the National Conference of State Legislatures has laid out the details. 

The stimulus amounts you’ll be given is based on your income from your 2018 taxes. If you have filed your 2019 taxes already, this figure will be used. An additional amount will be given for each dependant child you have as well.

When You Can’t Pay Rent

If you can’t pay rent and your other bills during this global crisis, help is available to you. From short term deferments to applying for unemployment, there are resources designed to see you through hard times.

COVID-19 has taken its toll on economies everywhere. If you’re unable to work, sick, laid off, or newly unemployed, protective measures have been put in place to keep people above water. These precautions also ensure that everyone who isn’t an essential worker is able to stay home.

Remember that if you can’t pay your rent, speak to your landlord about paying late or making partial payments if needed. Stay in contact with your utility companies, cell phone provider, and gym as well. Visit the lifestyle section for more great personal finance tips and resources.


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