As the job losses and economic fallout from the pandemic continue to cause financial distress for millions of Americans, people are worried about how they will pay the rent and other expenses.
In our last webinar — which featured guests from TransUnion and American Consumer Credit Counseling — we discussed a number of steps you can take if you’re not sure how you’ll pay next month’s rent, which are outlined below. If you want to watch the entire webinar, it’s available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qodYW0WHE-Q&feature=youtu.be.
- Talk to your landlord
- Be honest with your landlord about your situation and ask for leniency.
- Don’t agree to anything that won’t work for you. If your landlord allows you to skip rent for the next three months but wants it all paid back at once, that may not be feasible.
- Remember that your landlord may be hurting financially as well. Find common ground and ask if your rent can be reduced temporarily or if you can pay back missed rent over time.
- Check LegalFAQ.org
- This website has legal information for residential renters’ based on where you live during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Type in your state, county or city to find information relevant to you and what resources are available.
- Call 211 for information about community outreach programs
- 211 is available in every state and provides information about emergency services.
- Organizations like Easter Seals, the Salvation Army and others can provide financial relief, food distribution, medical assistance and more.
- Contact a credit counseling agency for assistance
- A credit counseling agency like American Consumer Credit Counseling provides debt management services to help you create a budget and a payment plan with prioritization of your debts
- Keep away from debt repair or debt consolidation agencies which can engage in shady practices and ultimately do you more harm – and cost you more money.
- Take an early withdrawal from a retirement account — only as a last resort
- If you borrow from your retirement account, you’re borrowing from your future – so avoid this if you can – or have a solid plan for how you will pay yourself back.
- During the pandemic, penalties on early withdrawals are being halted — however, you still pay income tax on the amount you withdraw which makes it a costly way to loan yourself money and not the best option.
As a reminder, check your credit report on a regular basis to make sure there are no errors or discrepancies. You can get a free copy every week at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If you spot errors, contact the creditor to file a dispute – both by phone and in writing.
There is no shame in asking for help when you truly need it. We at RentReporters are here to support you — beyond reporting your rent payment history. Email us at [email protected] if you have questions about this topic or other areas of concern.