Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

What to Do If You Can’t Pay Your Rent

Don’t let financial challenges today jeopardize your chances of buying a house tomorrow. Here’s what to do if you can’t pay your rent.

Understand your rights as a tenant. If you are unable to pay your rent because of COVID-19, you may be able to take advantage of special concessions put in place because of the pandemic. In September, the Trump Administration gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the authority to stop evictions through the end of 2020 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. There are also protections under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for those who have landlords who financed their rental property through Fannie Mae or Fannie Mac.  “Reach out to a qualified homeownership advisor that understands the rental guidelines and The Cares Act,” says Gary Plummer, senior homeownership advisor for HomeFree-USA. In fact, HomeFree-USA is a great place to start.

Be upfront with your landlord. If you are having financial challenges because of the pandemic or for any other reason, “stay in touch with your landlord,” Plummer says. Don’t wait until the day after the rent is due to tell your landlord you’ve lost your job. Instead, let them know as early as possible that you are having problems and ask if they can possibly work with you. Perhaps they will let you make a partial payment or skip a payment while you get back on your feet. Whatever agreement you come to, put it in writing. Also, stay in touch with your landlord the entire time that you’re struggling so they know how your situation is progressing.

Get proactive about finding new sources of income. If you are out of work, update your resume and let friends and colleagues know you’re looking for a job. Hopefully you have some savings to tide you over, but while you wait for an opportunity to present itself, be creative and look for alternative options. For example, now might be a good time to launch that side hustle catering business you always dreamed of. If you have family or friends who can assist you, consider launching a GoFundMe or asking for help.

We all have struggles and encounter challenging times. By staying in touch with your landlord and facing your challenges head-on, you can overcome this obstacle and move on to better things.