It can be tough to look for silver linings when your rent is due and you don’t have the cash to pay it. Here’s one to keep in the back of your head should this problem arise, though: You’re certainly not alone.
It seems like everyone has problems paying the rent at one time or another. It’s how you handle that problem that determines if you end up on the street or you get to continue living in your home.
What’s the best tool to use when you can’t pay the rent in full or even at all? A late rent hardship letter, and here are the steps to take before crafting one to your landlord.
1. Address the problem and accept that it exists.
Whether it’s due to mismanaging your money, having to dip into your emergency fund, or losing your job, you’ll have to acknowledge that you can’t pay the rent before you can proceed. If you’re in denial about the issue or keep putting it off, you’ll only make things worse.
Once you see that you won’t be able to make a timely payment in full, it’s time to access that backup plan, which is your hardship letter.
2. Come up with details as to why you can’t pay the rent.
Build your argument before writing your rent hardship letter. Take notes on what was different this month.
If you can, include dates when you lost your job or had an emergency that cut into your funds. The more details you can provide, the better.
3. Think of how you’re working to fix the situation.
Hopefully, you took action once you realized you were short on funds. Did you start looking for jobs? Have you applied for loans or credit cards to fill in any financial gaps? Did you start selling personal items you no longer need for quick cash?
Whatever moves you made to try to come up with your rent payment, write them down, as you’ll want to include all of them in your letter.
4. Pick a date for when you’ll be ready.
You don’t want to give an unrealistic estimate, but it’s important to tell your landlord when you plan on having their payment.
Pick an exact date and stick to it. This will give your landlord some peace of mind while you fix your finances.
5. Scrounge up whatever you can.
Even a partial rent payment can put your landlord at ease until you have the full amount. Do your best to put together some money that you can give them right now.
6. Know of any penalties.
Your lease should list what can happen if you’re late paying rent. This includes any penalties or late fees.
Since money is tight, you’ll want to include a section in your hardship letter where you state that this is (hopefully) your first time being late, and it’s not a repeat issue. Ask that any late fees be waived.
7. Put it all together.
Now that you’re prepared with your argument and any details to support it, write your late rent hardship letter.
As hard as it sounds, you can quickly find a template online to fill in with your personal information and details. Be sure to include everything in your letter, including a promise that you won’t be late on the rent again.
Give the letter to your landlord as soon as possible. By giving them a professional explanation of your situation, they should be willing to work with you to get your rent paid and keep that roof over your head.