What to Do if You Can’t Afford Your Rental Apartment

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So, you’ve rented an apartment, but something has gone terribly wrong. You’ve lost your job or been injured and can’t work or a hundred other things that can damage your income. Even so, your landlord still expects the rent every month on time. So, what to do if you can’t afford your rental apartment? Here are a few options.

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Your Rental Apartment

One of the worst positions you can be in is not having the cash to pay your rent.

Your property manager will be breathing down your neck and making your life even more miserable. 

So what can you do if you can’t pay?

Here are 10 options to help you out.

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1. Talk to Your Landlord or Property Owner

If you can’t pay your rent, I know the last thing you want to do is tell your landlord.

You’d rather bury your head in the sand and pray for a miracle.

But, that’s not the best option.

Give your landlord a head’s up about what is happening and why it is happening.

If it is a temporary situation, they may work with you.

The worst thing you can do is not tell them and then have them come knocking on your door when the rent is past due.

They will be in a much worse mood at that point and really won’t want to listen to what you have to say or to help you out of a difficult situation.

If they know ahead of time, they will see you as proactive and trying to fix the issue instead of a deadbeat.

They might be in a much better mood to help you out at that point.

Also if you tell them upfront, they may be more willing to waive any late fees that you would otherwise be required to pay.

2. Read Your Rental Agreement

You will want to read your lease to determine if there is a grace period for late payments.

For example, if your rent is due on the first of the month, you may have until the 5th of the month to pay without a late fee.

Most rental agreements are like this. 

If you’re just going to be a couple of days late, then you aren’t technically late until after the 5th, so just go ahead and pay your rent and hope you can get your rent to your landlord on the 1st when the next month rolls around.

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3. Use a Credit Card

While this isn’t a great option if your back is against the wall and you have no other options then you should consider paying your rent with a credit card.

Not all landlords will be set up to accept this type of payment, but if yours is, then it would be better to do this than to miss a rent payment.

Keep in mind, you will now have to pay off the credit card and still pay your rent next month.

This option should only be used if you are short on the rent due to an emergency or some short-term situation and you will still be able to continue paying rent going forward.

4. Negotiate a Delayed or Partial Rent Payment

If you have been a good tenant and have always paid your rent on time, you might be able to negotiate an agreement where you delay your monthly rent for one month or you make partial rent payments. 

You will need to explain the reason for your financial hardship and what you will do to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Of course, you will need to make sure that you are good to your word and can actually make good on this unpaid rent in the time frame the two of you have agreed to.

Be sure to get everything in writing for your payment plan, so there are no surprises later on when you are making partial payments.

5. Take a Hard Look at Your Budget

If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent every month, then there is a bigger problem.

Take a close look at your spending.

In fact, if you can track it for a month or two.

Write down everything you buy and how much you paid for it.

Keep a small journal with you at all times so you can do so.

Then you will see where you are wasting money – we all do.

This will make it easier to cut out some of your unnecessary expenses.

You might be surprised how much extra money you can come up with.

This will make paying rent easier and a lot less stressful.

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6. Use Part of Your Security Deposit

If you are in a real jam, see if you can use some of your security deposit for your unpaid rent.

If you have always paid on time before and have a good rental history with this landlord, they might be willing to let you do this.

If, on the other hand, you have been late before or are known as causing issues in the apartment complex then they won’t.

7. Use Crowdfunding

If push comes to shove, you can always try crowdfunding. 

This is where you tell your story and strangers donate money to your cause.

You need a compelling story to get any traction, but it can work.

People like to give to a good cause.

If you go this route, ask all your social media friends to forward the link.

8. Don’t Write a Bad Check

Don’t make a bad situation even worse. 

If you know you can’t make your rent, don’t write a bad check.

It will bounce and your landlord will be even more upset.

This will result in additional fees for you, such as a bounced check fee of $35 dollars or more.

You could also get into legal trouble if your landlord decides to go to the police.

The last thing you want is to end up in court or jail.

If you do, it will be much more difficult for you to find a new apartment going forward.

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9. Ask for Assistance

There are rental assistance programs out there if you find you can’t pay your rent.

The Salvation Army has several programs for emergency assistance. This is a one-time assistance. 

They will also help with clothing, food, and paying utility bills.

Check with a Salvation Army near you and give them a call.

An organization called Modest Needs will also provide emergency assistance.

There is an application process so don’t wait until the last minute to reach out to them.

If you can’t pay the rent due to an emergency, then check out Catholic Charities. They have a program that will help with your rent if you have an emergency situation.

They will also help with other needs such as food and clothing as well.

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10. Take Out a Personal Loan

While this isn’t the best option either, it is better than using a credit card.

The interest rates are lower and depending on the size of the loan it can help out with future rent payments as well.

You can get a personal loan online, at a bank, or credit union.

Whatever you do, don’t get a payday loan. This will land you in a cycle of financial distress that you might not be able to come back from.

These high-interest loans will have rates up to 500 percent over the course of the year.

A personal loan will typically have 5 to 9 percent interest.

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To Sum it All Up:

Before you do anything else, be sure to look at your lease agreement to determine what your options might be. Then talk to your landlord or property management. You might be able to work something out with them depending on your financial situation and your past rental history with them. If all else fails, check out assistance programs or consider a personal loan.

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