What to do if You Can't Pay Rent

If something unavoidable happens and you know that you’ll be late paying your rent, there are a few important steps you can take:

  • If you share rent with roommates, let them know as soon as possible that you will be paying your portion of the rent late. Perhaps they can help cover your share until you can pay.
  • If your roommate’s are not able to help you, call your landlord immediately. Explain the situation and try to make at least a partial payment by the due date.
  • Then, give the landlord a plan for paying the rest—and deliver as promised.

If your lease states there is a penalty for late payments, expect to pay it. If you’re really short on money, ask the landlord if you can do some chores (yard work, exterior painting, baby-sitting, odd jobs) in exchange for part of the rent. Keeping the lines of communication open will go a long way toward fostering a willingness from your landlord to work with you on this problem. In some cases, a landlord may report your missed payment to a credit bureau, which could have a negative effect on your credit score. That is why it’s important to keep communicating with your landlord and be honest and realistic about your situation.

You also could take a look at your budget to see where you can cut expenses so you won’t have this problem the next month or beyond. If you don’t have a budget, the Budget Wizard can help you create one in three easy steps.

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