Asking your property manager to restructure your rent payments during coronavirus can feel intimidating. You've signed a lease that clearly steps out rental payment policies. You owe a certain amount each month and there are consequences for not paying.
However, coronavirus has created extenuating circumstances for many renters. You know you can afford to stay in your apartment, but need some help for the next few months while things settle down. This is the exact situation where you should consider asking your property manager about rent payment plans.
Rent repayment plans allow you, as the tenant, to repay past-due rent in installments until you've caught up. Each property manager will handle the details a little differently, but the end result is the same. You get to stay in your apartment.
During coronavirus, this plan can also provide a way for you to pay less rent for a certain period of time in response to changes in your financial situation. Once you finalize a plan, you'll know how long you can pay a decreased rent, as well as the options allowed to pay the remainder back. This takes away the stress and worry that your property manager will make it difficult for you to stay in your apartment.
Based on what your property manager is comfortable with, and what works for your situation, there are a few options to consider:
You can always customize your rent payment plan with your property manager, taking a few elements from more than one option. Maybe you pay a portion of your missed rent back all at once but the rest you manage in installments. You could also make payments mid-month so it doesn't become an extra expense on top of your rent. There are no set rules as long as you work out a plan where you acknowledge what you owe and know how you'll repay it.
Take the initiative and ask for support. You can propose a rent payment plan to your property manager that directly meets your needs. It factors in all your current limitations and establishes a plan that shows you're committed to continuing to pay rent, the best you can, until things level back off. There's no downside to asking.
As soon as your financial situation changes, act. Don't wait for rent to come due before asking your property manager for help.
“Giving them as much notice as possible will make it easier to work something out together, and will, hopefully, indicate that you're acting in good faith," writes Alicia Adamczyk from CNBC.
It's beneficial for both you and your property manager to work together when rent gets tricky, but you need enough lead time to finalize a plan.
Preparing your pitch for a rent payment plan means thinking through all the details in advance. You want to effectively argue why you need assistance and for how long. You then want to tell your property manager how you'll pay back the difference. You need to stick to your plan, submit it all in writing and prepare to negotiate a little.
As you craft your rent payment plan proposal, the best thing you can have is proof. Your property manager will want to see why you're in need. Saying you need help without evidence can lead to doubt. You don't want to seem like you're taking advantage of coronavirus by asking for help when you don't really need it. Ideal documentation to help support your request for a rent payment plan includes:
You should also show proof of what you're doing to help remedy your financial situation. If you have job interviews set up, mention that. If you've been furloughed, update your property manager when you know work will resume. If you're struggling with how to pull this together, it's OK to use a template agreement. It can keep you focused on what you need to plead your case.
Also important is showing that you're ready to catch up with rent payments before the end of your lease. Let your property manager know what you're able to pay now and when you plan on paying back the difference. Offer to pay something, even if it's a small amount during your hard months.
“Look at how much you can reasonably pay now, keeping rent as a top priority," write Katherine Khashimova Long and Anna Patrick from The Seattle Times. While there are a lot of financial demands to fulfill, keeping a roof over your head is a biggie. Putting at least a portion of your rent into your budget, even when you're strapped for cash, shows property managers you care about paying.
Keep things official, and make sure you have a paper trail during the negotiation of establishing a rent payment plan. Submit your initial request in writing, with copies of all your evidence.
Then, maintain a file of all the communication between you and your property manager. Once you've agreed on terms, ask that a formal document gets drawn up that you both can sign. Stick to it, and make sure you make all your rent payments on time.
There's always a chance your property manager will say no to giving you a break on rent. If that's the case, there are other outlets to pursue for support. To cover your bases, at the same time you're preparing your request for a rent payment plan, see if you can get support from these other organizations:
When all else fails, consider taking out a loan to help with your expenses.
Coronavirus is changing the day-to-day for many people. This means adjusting to a lower income or even dealing with job loss. You're not alone in the struggle to find the money to cover all your expenses.
The important thing to note is that most property managers want to help you stay in your apartment. They would rather work with someone whom they know can pay, at least a little now, and will catch up later. Keep this in mind, and don't hesitate to ask for help when you need it.