Should I pay rent during the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an onslaught that has rendered millions of Americans without financial means to sustain their rent. So if you are asking, “should I pay for rent during COVID-19?” Here are some of the things you should do.
Take Full Stock of Your Financial Situation
Are you expecting a tax refund? If you have a savings account, assets that can be sold, or a retirement account that you can dip into to pay your rent then you should consider doing this as the Internal Revenue Services provides an option for 401k hardship withdrawals against eviction. You can take a 401K from your employer's plan if you are still under their employ, but have been laid off or have had hours restricted.
Use Applicable Eviction Stays or Moratoriums
You should consider temporary eviction bands and foreclosures on properties in your area. Moratoriums have been issued in many states, cities, and counties in light of the pandemic. Find out if there’s any moratorium on evictions in your jurisdiction and find out how long it is expected to be in place. Remember these are temporary bans and will end at some point.
Review Your Lease for Helpful Clauses
There are hardship clauses on some leases that allow to end tenancy early during times of financial difficulty. Although you won’t be able to defer or skip a rent payment with such a clause, you will be able to get a better place to live, in some cases without any penalty. But it depends on the language. Of course, you should check the exact language if you are under a stay at home order, so that you are aware if you can move residences while the order is still in place.
Let Your Landlord Know About Your Situation and Try to Negotiate
Once it’s clear that paying your rent due to the COVID-19 hardships will be almost impossible, contact your landlord. Inform your landlord about your situation and try to come up with an agreement that will work for both of you. If you’ve been a good tenant, your landlord will appreciate that you reached out sooner rather than later, and will likely work with you to help mitigate the loss of rental income.
Look Into Rental Assistance Programs
There are local, state, and national assistance programs you can tap into. You can find this on the housing department or your state’s website and see if there are any programs available to help in this time of emergency. You can go online and search with “emergency rental assistance” and your city, county, or state name and you will get other assistance programs.
Look Into Obtaining Other Assistance
You can apply for unemployment compensation benefits if you’ve been laid off or terminated from your job because of the COVID-19 outbreak. You can apply for a Small Business Association if you are a small business owner that has had to close your doors by orders of the government. Some private companies have created programs, and offered bank loans, a grant, or other financial assistance to people and businesses affected by the pandemic, which you might qualify for.
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