Late Rent. Now What???

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Late rent is when you can’t pay your rent in full on or before your due date.

These days with the inflation situation, many necessities like groceries, utilities and the monthly rent of your residence have become unaffordable for many of us. Couples with two incomes are struggling so what does that mean for many of us single parents with only one income? It means times are tough. I want to tell you a few things that combined with prayer have helped me. Hopefully you will find something that you can take from my experiences.

It is very important NOT to pay yourrent late every month. Look at your finances. Write down a list of your expenses.  Rent should always be less than 30% of your monthly income. Most rental communities will not allow you to rent if you are over this. If they do acceptyour application to rent, they may require a very large deposit or ask that youhave a cosigner. A cosigner is someone who agrees to take the responsibility forthe payment in the event that you do default on your contract. Your cosigner willbe responsible for paying your debt. Rent is always going to cost more withpoor credit, so prepare yourself for higher prices if your credit is not good.

If you find that you arenot able to pay your rent on time on a regular basis, you may have to humbleyourself and look at moving into a more affordable location. But let’s face it,very few places are in the “affordable category” for most of us with a single income.

Here are a few thingsto help you negotiate your situation.

Communicate Immediately!

Telling your landlord your situation can be a very difficult conversation to have, but it is better to give them advanced warning if you see that you are not going to be able to be current. Don’t wait. It is extremely important that you contact your landlord immediately. Tell him or her that you expect to be late. Briefly explain why you are late, less is more here. Your landlord has bills of their own and your problems are NOT their problems. When you speak to your landlord, explain what you will do to make sure it does not happen again. Make sure you have sat down and created a plan that you can discuss with him. A plan that will not only get you caught up, but more importantly will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 Late Payments must be the Exception, not the Normal

Things happen from time to time.  Sometimes there are situations where you just cannot avoid paying late. Maybe you have lost your job or your work hours were cut. Maybe your health declined or an accident has caused you aloss of work and or income resulting in late payments. When these situations occur and you communicate with your landlord, they are more likely to be sympathetic and allow you to get caught up.  However, if being late with your rent becomes a regular situation this will only frustrate you, and will frustrate your landlord even more and make them less inclined to help you in the future. They may even decide not to renew your lease or worse, they can begin proceedings to have you evicted. Your landlord may have had a bad experience with a tenant previously and may be afraid that the same situation is happening. He or she may not want to give you any leniency.  Check the rental laws in your state to see what rights you have as a tenant, but remember, you have agreed to a rental contract to pay a set price on a set date. This is a legal binding contract.

$$ Pay What You Can On Time

Always pay as much as you can on or before your due date. This will go a long way toward building goodwill with your landlord. No matter what, you are responsible for the payment according to your lease, so you might as well pay what you can on time. Paying nothing will only make things worse and it may cause you just to get further and further behind.

Look into local rental assistance programs. Since the Covid Pandemic in 2020, many programs for rent assistance have been created. Most City and State websites can easily identify if you can quality for one of these programs.

Negotiate a Payment Schedule

If you have trouble paying your rent all at once on or before the due date, you might want to offer to pay your landlord in installments throughout the month, rather than all at once. This will show your landlord that you’re making every effort to get current and stay current.

Think Outside of the Box

If you cannot pay, think of offering a service that will help your landlord. Try offering to mow the lawn or take care of other work at the property you rent. That way, yourlandlord can save some money on expenses, which will be helpful to them, especiallywhen combined with a partial payment. This will also show that you are tryingto make good on your payment, and that you are invested in this rental property and want to take care of it. This helps you to get on their good side and showsthat them that this is a short-lived situation because you are a responsible person.

Moving- Affordable Housing

Moving is a very humbling situation for sure, but if you find that you simply cannot afford your rent, it might be time to think of think of relocating. The last thing you need is the stress of not being able to make your rent. Or finding yourself in a situation where if one thing goes wrong, you will be out on the street with your family and no options. This is the time to speak with relatives, speak with friends, speak with coworkers, speak with your church and explain to everyone that you come into contact with that you need to find an affordable place to live. Believe me, I understand how difficult this conversation can be. But this is the time to step out of your comfort zone. You may need to move into a smaller place, share a room with someone, or relocate to another city. This can all be temporary so don’t let your emotions make decisions. Take some time to come up with a written plan to ensure your decisions are valid.

If you have to move, consider the moving costs. Moving costs will include three months of prepaid rent including the first month, last month, and a month rent for the security deposit. Thenadd new deposits for your utilities as most companies no longer transfer your current deposits, but use those to pay any outstanding bills you have at the previous residence. And then don’t forget about the actual cost to move to another location. Even if you move yourself, you will still have some costs associated with the move.

Please keep in mind, that if you do relocate to a more affordable residence, you arestill responsible for the rent that is still due at the previous address. 

The Good News: Ways To Get Back On Top:

All of this is overwhelming. I get it, so I have put together some positive items that may help you get through this tough time.

Get a Roommate-Yes, get a roommate or share a room with someone. When my boys were in preschool, I had a very small one bed apartment which was on the top floor over a beauty shop. My two young boys slept in the bedroom and I slept on a pullout couch in the living room but we made it!

Downsize-Sell your stuff! You have downsized but now what do you do with the furniture and items that no longer fit it in your new residence? Do Not put them in storage. One in ten people have storage units that they pay for monthly. The items are usually items that they will never use again. If you are late with payments on a storage unit, the unit will be locked, sold with your items and you will still owe money on the unit. There is no leniency in paying with a storage unit. Take my advice, if you have items in a unit, you don’t need them. Sell them or donate them to a local nonprofit organization. There is always someone who needs your items worse than you do.

Cut Your Grocery Bill-Take a look at what your family is eating. Do you need the pre-packaged items or can you buy them in bulk and spend some time breaking them down to snack size bags for quick snacks and lunch items? This one I will admit I hate- but switch to non-brand products. I am not going to tell you they taste the same as the branded items. I am going to tell you that research today in 2023 shows that over 34 million people go hungry daily in the United States. Taste should really be the least of your concerns.

Cut Your Entertainment Expenses– This should go without saying, but I have seen people that cannot pay their bills, but talk about a new show or movie they just watched on one of the many streaming channels. Entertainment is a luxury, not a necessity. A $20.00 local television antenna at your local big box chain that connects to the back of your smart television will allow you to watch local channels for free. Take advantage of this.

Make Money-Delivery: There are so many delivery services that pay you daily or weekly for delivering a variety of items. Everything from groceries, office supplies, to your favorite meal. All you need is reliable transportation, car insurance, and a mobile device to run the delivery application. The services include companies like Instacart, Uber Eats, and Shipt, just to name a few. I know that your town or city will have some type of delivery service.

Make Money- Rent Out Your Car: Companies such as Turo found at turo.com are always looking for reliable automobiles from people like you who are willing to rent their car to people who need a car short term. Instead of renting from a large national company, travelers want to work with car owners who take care of their automobile. Maybe someone needs a car for a day, for a weekend, or for a week. It has become a no contact, transaction that benefits both you and the customer. If you can go without your car for a bit, you can earn good money.

Make Money-Part Time Employment: Work part time at a local big box store, a call center, a restaurant, or clean houses. These do not require prior experience and they are always hiring.

Take Away Special circumstancesmay cause us to become late on a rent payment, but through communication andprayer you will find a way to get through this season. One day you will look back at this struggle and realize that your situation could have been worse. I wish this realization could help your anxiety today, but you do have options. Nothing is hopeless. You are not alone. Please reach out to someone if you are struggling with depression during this time.

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I am a single parent of three wonderful children. Two boys who are grown and live out on their own and a teenage daughter at home. I have gone through a lot of drama with divorce and sickness- just to start, but have found my way out of the shadows and I am ready to motivate and empower women with what I have learned. Being unqualified is exactly what makes me qualified. I work full time in the corporate world, I'm a parent, and I resell products on several different online platforms. Last, but the most important, I am a Christ follower at Church By The Glades.