What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent

April 14, 2020 by Nathan

If you are struggling to pay your rent, you are not alone. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 31% of American renters did not pay rent for the month of April. This is just one example of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected our country. If you turn on any news station right now you will be overwhelmed with statistics, graphs, and diagrams of the effects of the coronovirus. However, it becomes very real, and very personal, when you are the one missing paychecks and struggling to make ends meet.

Luckily, we live in a community full of helpers! There is no reason for people to go hungry in Calloway County. Food resources are abundant! We have meals provided by Needline, Soup for the Soul, blessing boxes, community kitchens, and the family resource centers. We’ve also seen the grassroots uprising of the Calloway County Collective to make sure that people have the essential supplies that they need. It is amazing what our community is capable of.

Even with all these resources, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do when you can’t make ends meet. Every day, we work with people who are struggling to pay rent, utilities, or other vital expenses. Oftentimes, it doesn’t even take money to help. All they need is someone to help them figure out how to navigate these difficult and chaotic times.

With that in mind, here is our list of 3 things to do if you can’t pay rent.

1. Talk to your landlord.

If you even think you might struggle to pay your rent on time, talk to your landlord as soon as possible. Don’t wait until rent is due to contact your landlord. Giving them as much notice as possible will make it easier to work something out together, and will, hopefully, indicate that you are acting in good faith. If they are willing to work out a payment arrangement or defer your rent to a later date, make sure to get a copy of the agreement in writing. Provide your landlord with documentation of your hardship. This could be a note from your employer or evidence of your unemployment application. Be honest with your landlord about what they can expect. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

2. Pay what you can.

Landlords are typically much more willing to work with tenants when they make a good faith effort to pay something towards their rent. Remember, we are all in this together. Many landlords rely on the rent they receive to be able to provide for their own families. If you can show them that you understand they rely on the income provided by your rent, oftentimes they are happy to work with you. Remember, they don’t want to have to find new tenants right now any more than you don’t want to move. Even though evictions have been stopped in Kentucky by executive order, you will still owe your rent eventually. And, evictions will begin happening again when this is all over. The further behind you fall on your rent, the harder it will be to catch up.

3. Use your resources.

There are lots of community agencies who can help during this time. Make phone calls. Ask for help. Don’t let pride cause you to dig a big enough hole that you can’t climb out of. There are also increased government programs to help right now. Apply for unemployment. If you can’t get through, try again. Keep trying until you get it. The federal government also approved the CARES Act which may provide additional income. Those payments have already begun going out this week. When, and if, you receive a stimulus payment- use it wisely! Pay your rent, or, if you can, pay next month’s rent. Also, take advantage of non-rent-related resources so you can redirect some of your income to rent. Perhaps, if you can get help paying your electric bill you will be able to pay more towards your rent.

Right now, we are dealing with things that many of us never imagined. It can be scary, emotional, and overwhelming. Just remember, you are not alone. Don’t suffer in silence. Reach out. Just make sure to keep a safe distance. As Andy says, “We will get through this. We will get through this together.”



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