Whether you just sank your last few hundred dollars into car repairs to ensure you make it work each day, suddenly lost a client, or had unexpected medical expenses come up, there are all kinds of reasons you might find yourself coming up short when the rent is due.
But don’t look at your dwindling bank account balance and admit defeat. You still have options, and we’ll cover them in this article. From picking up some extra work or asking for a loan to local or federal relief organizations, there are a myriad of ways to get emergency help with the rent.
Read on to learn more.
Ask family or friends for a loan
Asking for money never feels good, but sometimes it’s smart to swallow your pride. If you’re going through a rough time financially, your family and friends are sure to sympathize. It most cases, it’s probably preferable to ask your family for a short-term loan rather than risk your credit score or the chance of eviction.
Your loved ones are sure to understand. And even if your family or friends are unable to help with your entire rent payment, they may be able to chip in a portion.
Depending on your relationship, it may be helpful to outline terms of the loan. Create a payment plan and even an interest rate, if it feels appropriate to do so.
Pick up odd jobs
Don’t underestimate the power of your community. Your family, friends, and acquaintances might be able to help you find extra work to cover your rent.
Ask your old (or current) boss, your colleagues, your neighbors. Connect with everyone you know and ask if they’ve heard of any side gigs or odd jobs you could help out with.
You don’t have to share that you’re short on rent money. Just mention that you had some unexpected expenses come up and you’re trying to earn some extra cash.
Don’t be too picky. Take on jobs even if you don’t like them. Create opportunities for yourself by identifying ways you can help others. Offer to mow peoples’ lawns, walk their dogs, clean their gutters, babysit their kids, paint their houses. Pitch any service you can think of that someone may benefit from.
You could also become a driver for a service like Uber or Lyft, pick up odd jobs through TaskRabbit, deliver groceries through Instacart, or pick up online work through one of the many freelancing sites out there. These options all enable you to maintain a flexible schedule and squeeze gigs in whenever it’s convenient for you.
Seek help from federal and state organizations
You may be surprised to learn that there are many federal programs and organizations that offer emergency help with rent, including the Housing Choice Voucher Program. From non-profits and faith-based organizations to government initiatives and Veteran Affairs offices, there are all kinds of avenues you can pursue.
Keywords like “rent relief” or “rent assistance” plus your state are sure to reveal a plethora of options from an internet search.
Additionally, some of these organizations, such as the Legal Aid Society, specialize in helping individuals who have received eviction notices. They may be able to help you get a payment extension, come up with the necessary funds, and more. To locate these services, input search terms like “eviction assistance” or “eviction prevention” and your state.
Keep in mind, most of these programs have specific eligibility requirements. They may need to see proof that the reason you’re unable to make your rent payment is due to unforeseen circumstances, rather than simply poor money management. On top of that, many of these programs can be utilized by an individual only once per year. This means you should only seek their assistance if you’ve already exhausted other options.
Look for assistance from local organizations
There are also many options for receiving rental assistance from local organizations. Your city’s Salvation Army branch, Department of Social Services, local nonprofits, and local chapters of faith-based charities such as the St. Vincent De Paul Society, are all great places to start.
Like some of the federal organizations mentioned above, local rent relief programs have varying requirements and aren’t meant to be used on an ongoing basis.
To find these services, do an online search for “rent relief” or “rent assistance” plus the name of your city. Alternatively, you can contact your local United Way chapter or your city hall and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Consider a payday loan
Payday loans are best used as a very last resort as they usually have extremely high interest rates compared to other types of loans.
Typically, payday loans will enable you to borrow up to $500. Usually, you can qualify if you have a bank account in good standing and proof of employment. You give the lender a personal check and they transfer the funds into your account. On your next payday the lender will cash the check to recoup the funds.
Given the way payday loans work, it’s critical that you have the funds available to pay them off. Otherwise, your check will bounce resulting in account fees, interest accrual, and possible damage to your credit score. With this in mind, only use a payday loan as a last resort.
Discuss options with your landlord
It’s always best to be up-front with your landlord rather than simply neglect to pay your rent. Some landlords may be willing to temporarily lower your rent or allow you to pay in installments if you present them with a solid timeline.
You may even be able to work off a portion of your rent payment by taking on some property maintenance or management duties on your landlord’s behalf. Don’t be afraid to pitch an idea like this to open the door for negotiations.
The most important thing is to communicate with your landlord early. This will help you stay in your landlord’s good graces and offer you peace of mind as you continue your mission to come up with the funds you need.
If you can’t pay your rent due to COVID-19
There are organizations and federal initiatives that provide disaster relief assistance to cover housing and food costs for individuals affected by COVID-19.
There has been legislation passed in many states preventing evictions during COVID-19 or stipulating that no late fees or penalties be charged if renters fail to pay on time or at all. These laws vary by state so it’s up to you to research the relief efforts available in your area.
At a local level, many cities have developed their own rental relief programs to support residents. Many of them offer grants to renters to assist with rent on a one-time basis or over a period of months.
The eligibility requirements for these programs vary and some are based on a lottery, so don’t assume you won’t qualify. Research your options at both a local and federal level to ensure you’re not missing out on rental assistance.
Know your rights
Neglecting to pay your rent can have some serious consequences. It can strain your relationship with your landlord, negatively affect your credit score, or even lead to eviction.
If you’re in a tough spot financially and struggling to make your rent payments don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Pick up odd jobs, negotiate with your landlord, and don’t forget that there are local and federal assistance programs that can help you get through hard times.
And most importantly, understand the terms of your lease and know your rights as a tenant so you can advocate for yourself if any challenging situations arise with your landlord.