An integral part of adulting is facing your problems head-on instead of running away from them. There’s always a way to deal with them, no matter how big the problem is.

Can’t pay your rent? Here’s how to approach your landlord

Not being able to pay your rent and utility bills is probably one of your worst nightmares, and it could well have come true due to the coronavirus pandemic. If it makes you feel any better, know that you’re not alone. Thousands of people around the world have lost their jobs, and numerous others have suffered significant pay cuts. Nobody was prepared for coronavirus, and nobody saw its financial consequences until recently. Everyone is doing the best they can to stay safe, sane, and secure – including you. So, don’t stress too much; prepare yourself to talk to your landlord and break the news to them. 

1. Give them a heads-up 

Nobody appreciates being blindsided – least of all someone who expects money from you. By now, you and your landlord would have agreed upon a fixed date every month to pay the rent. Make sure that you inform them before that date that you won’t be able to meet the rent this month. If you miss the date without saying anything, it will raise a major red flag and will put you on the backfoot. Even if you’re not able to get them on call, drop a quick message. You can have a proper conversation about it later but giving them a heads-up takes care of the time urgency. 

2. Have an honest conversation

We all automatically switch to a guarded, professional, and distant version of ourselves when we have to deal with our boss, landlord, etc. It’s natural and understandable, but being honest and vulnerable can go a long way in connecting with someone and building much-needed understanding. The coronavirus pandemic is one of those rare historical moments that is affecting every single person around the globe. No one is unaware of the financial consequences of the pandemic, and that includes your landlord. Tell them if you’ve had a pay cut or lost your job and that you’re struggling financially right now but will soon figure things out and pay the rent. Chances are they will surprise you by being understanding. 

Related: Planning to share a property? Here are some pros and cons

3. Bring up your track record 

When you’re having a conversation with your landlord, it can be beneficial to back up your cause with numbers and facts. If you’ve always paid rent on time in the past, given them no trouble, and been a good tenant, bring this up. Make them see that coronavirus is something beyond your control and is an unusual and unexpected happening. You have to advocate for yourself because if you can’t have faith in yourself, your landlord won’t.

4. Suggest the use of the deposit

A wise way to approach someone with a problem is to have a solution or two along with it. Simply telling your landlord that you cannot pay the rent this month will not be as effective as telling them what you can do instead. You can suggest that they consider digging into the security deposit to meet the month’s rent and that you’ll reimburse that portion of the deposit as soon as possible. Or you could say you’re open to an alternative plan your landlord may have in mind. You could also negotiate for a temporary reduction in rent. 

Related: Budgeting basics: Moving out of your parents' home

5. Come up with an action plan 

Your landlord may understand why you may have to miss rent for a month, but anything more than that may be pushing it. Once you’ve had a conversation with your landlord, come up with a plan to tackle the rent for the next few months. If you have an emergency fund, this is the right time to use it. If you don’t, sell off some investments to get access to cash. You’ll also have to rework your budget and reduce your discretionary spends. If you have EMIs, try to make use of the moratorium.

In case you’ve lost your job or are facing job uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, it may be worth considering moving back to your parents’ home if that’s a possibility. If not, you could look at getting a roommate or another flatmate to reduce your burden of rent. Another option is to move to an apartment with a lower rent in a different area of the city once the lockdown has been lifted completely.  Here's a millennial woman’s guide to saving big on monthly bills


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