What if I Can’t Pay Rent

What if I Can’t Pay Rent

In recent times, renters across the country have faced a daunting reality: significant rent increases that push the boundaries of affordability. With the renter eviction ban ending and the federal eviction moratorium lifted, the safety net many relied on has disappeared. This blog post aims to guide you through understanding your rights, options, and steps to take if you find yourself unable to afford a steep rent increase.

Understanding Rent Increases

As we step into a new year, renters are beginning to receive notices of rent increases, some as high as 40%. This phenomenon isn't isolated but part of a wider trend fueled by a nationwide housing crisis. The demand for rental units has skyrocketed, occupancy rates have hit record highs, and available apartments are scarce. Landlords, attempting to recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, are capitalizing on the limited market supply to raise rents.

Why Are Rents Skyrocketing?

Several factors contribute to this surge:

  • Recovery Efforts: Landlords are trying to recuperate losses from the pandemic.
  • Supply and Demand: A significant imbalance with more renters than available units.
  • Housing Market Dynamics: As home prices soar, more people are turning to rent, further increasing demand.

Can Landlords Increase My Rent By So Much?

In most American states, rent control policies are banned, giving landlords the liberty to raise rent to almost any price. The lack of rent control means there's no legal cap on how much your rent can be increased year over year.

Facing an Unaffordable Rent Increase: Your Options

Negotiate with Your Landlord

Start by attempting to negotiate the increase. Landlords may be willing to consider a more reasonable raise or even a payment plan to help ease the burden.

Seek Rental Assistance

Rental assistance programs are still operational, offering a lifeline to tenants struggling to keep up with rent. Applying for rental assistance not only provides financial relief but also offers legal protection against eviction.


It might be worth exploring the rental market for more affordable options. Moving to a different neighborhood or a less central location could significantly reduce your living expenses.

Utilize Rent Cash Back Programs

Programs like Lighthouse offer cash back on rent for new lease signings, providing an innovative way to offset high rental costs.

Facing Eviction: Steps to Take

Before Legal Action

If your landlord has indicated a potential eviction, engage in open dialogue to explore all possible solutions. Agreeing on a repayment plan and formalizing it in writing can prevent the situation from escalating.

After an Eviction Lawsuit Is Filed

Seek legal assistance immediately. Many organizations offer free legal aid to tenants facing eviction. Respond to the lawsuit by outlining why eviction is unwarranted and proposing solutions, such as detailing a repayment plan or noting your application for rental assistance.

Key Takeaways

  • Research: Understand your rights and the specifics of your lease agreement.
  • Communicate: Open lines of dialogue with your landlord can lead to mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Explore All Options: From negotiation to assistance programs, several avenues can help manage an unaffordable rent increase.


The end of eviction protections and significant rent increases have put many renters in a precarious position. However, by understanding your rights, exploring all available options, and taking proactive steps, you can navigate through this challenging time. Remember, you're not alone, and resources are available to help you maintain your housing stability and financial well-being.

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