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.

How to Negotiate With Your Landlord if You Can’t Pay Your Rent

If you have big plans to buy a house in the near future, the last thing you want to do is hurt your credit score today. For renters struggling to make rent payments right now, here are some tips for negotiating with your landlord.

If you’re having trouble paying your rent because of recent events, you’re not alone. Many renters have struggled with rent since the pandemic began.

The last thing you want to do if you are planning to buy a house in the future is hurt your credit score today. Here are some ways to negotiate a solution that is a win-win for all.

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. For example, if your rental property is financed through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is a 120-day pause on evictions and late fees for renters. Also, some states have made it illegal for landlords to evict late tenants temporarily during the pandemic. However, understand that even if you are given a reprieve from worrying about getting evicted, you still are responsible for coming up with your rent money.

Don’t wait until you’re late. If you know you aren’t going to be able to pay your rent, it’s better to come clean with your landlord and let them know you are having problems before the rent is due. If your rent is already late, talk to your landlord sooner rather than later. The earlier you talk to your landlord, the more notice they have, which may make them more open to the idea of working with you on a solution.

Think about whether you can afford a partial payment. Before you talk to your landlord, think about how much you can afford to pay. Maybe you can’t pay your entire rent, but can you pay half or three-quarters of it. Your landlord may be open to setting up a payment plan that allows you to pay less temporarily and then catch up as you get back on your feet.

Be prepared to show proof of financial hardship. Your landlord may ask to see evidence that your ability to pay your rent has been diminished because of the pandemic. Recent pay stubs or a letter from your employer explaining that your salary has been reduced are examples of ways you can prove your circumstances.

Get any agreement in writing. Once you come to an agreement with your landlord about how you will move forward, make sure you get it in writing. That way there are no misunderstandings that can come back to haunt you later.

Once you get a handle on your rent situation, contact HomeFree-USA so you can work toward the day when you never have to pay rent again.