It goes without saying that these are very trying times. Many of us have never had to deal with situations of this nature before, and one of the biggest impacts COVID-19 has had on millions of us is the loss or lack of income due to lay-offs and businesses closings.
There is no denying that many tenants will have trouble paying rent during this time. One thing we would like to emphasize is that neither side take advantage or be too harsh on one another. Tenants should not intentionally hold off paying rent because there are some local, state and federal programs out there now to help with rental assistance. There has been a lot of talk out there about how since some can’t pay rent, then they can’t. One thing we all need to understand is that landlords have bills they need to pay as well, such as mortgages, insurance, and often utility bills.
It almost goes without saying that in this time of uncertainty, if you are a landlord, you are wondering what to do if your tenant has been furloughed or laid off and if you are a tenant you are faced with the anxiety of potentially not being able to fulfill monthly rental payments. We understand every landlord-tenant situation is different, but here are some general ideas to help one another during this time.
1. Be empathetic
Make sure to remember, we are all humans going through this uncertain time. Be understanding of the fact that your tenants may have just loss their job, which can be extremely frightening. Everyone who has lost their job is asking themselves, “How am I going to get by?” Try to put yourself in their shoes and reassure them that you are in this together and that you want to work with them and help them see this through.
Tenants be sure to do the same. Being a landlord is no easy feat and they are feeling the stress of not being able to pay multiple bills (mortgage, insurance etc.) on their own home payments.
2. Rent still needs to get paid
Be sure to remember, that rent is your obligation. During times of hardship people will often rework their budget on different life payments to make things work for the time being, so it is important to remember that the rent needs to be a large part of these considerations.
3. Explaining the options
Work together to brainstorm a plan or alternative options for paying rent. It’s important to remember these are difficult times for those especially who have suddenly lost their incomes. Rent is just one living expense that you as a tenant need to figure out how to meet. One way landlords can help relieve some stress is to waive the late fees.
Here are some options both tenants and landlords should discuss:
- Can they borrow from a relative?
- Pay rent using a credit card? If this is a viable option, offer to pay the fee associated with using their credit card
- Can you work out a payment plan with them?
- Local, State and Federal assistance programs
Make sure that you, both landlord and tenant, are keeping a close eye on the federal assistance being given during this time. The government has been offering various programs to offer relief and help people out and keep them on their feet.
4. Communication is key
A lot of times when tenants are unable to pay they tend to bury their head in the sand and they don’t pay, call or explain their current situation. If you as the tenant stay in communication with your landlord and don’t attempt to take advantage your landlord will be more likely to work with you and try to come up with an alternative arrangement.
5. It’s to everyone’s benefit
For landlords being flexible with your tenants and working with them to keep them in your rental properties means keeping your properties in business. It’s better to have a tenant paying some rent with the promise that they will make an effort in the future to make up the shortfall than to be looking for a new tenant in an unsettled time.
Tenants, being actively communicative with your landlords and showing them that you are willing to work with them as best you can will help to ease stress and make your landlord that more accommodating.
THINGS WILL GET BETTER and when they do, both sides will be grateful that they got through it together.
Last week, Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new $3 million Rental Relief Fund in which people could apply for who have reduced or no income due to the stay-at-home advisory. Although there are qualifications, those that do will receive up to $4,000 in rental assistance. To learn more or apply for the fund click here.