"I can't pay my rent!" Now what? How to Approach the Landlord

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Why Paying Rent On Time Is Important to Your Landlord

Paying rent on time and in full is very important to your landlord. Your landlord pays various monthly bills associated with the property you live in. If you don’t pay rent on time and in full, they will have to come up with the difference out of their own pocket. Sometimes landlords face the same problems you do. If they don’t have the money to pay the mortgage because your rent is late, they will incur late fees. The late fees listed in your rental agreement won’t always cover the bank imposed fees your landlord incurs.

Your Landlord Doesn’t Want You To Move Out

It’s easy to assume that if you experience hardship, your landlord will heartlessly throw you out on the streets. This is simply not true. Whenever a landlord has to evict a tenant they have to follow a series of steps determined by your state’s landlord-tenant laws. The process can be time consuming and expensive. In addition, your landlord will lose rent during the period between when you vacate the home and when the new tenant moves in. They will also incur cleaning and repair expenses.

Your landlord doesn’t want you to leave. As long as you can pay your rent within the month, chances are most landlords will work with you. Will they be happy about it? Probably not. Will they charge you extra? Most definitely.

Be Proactive

At the first indication that you are running in to financial problems, call your landlord and let them know rent will be late. Try to give them whatever you can afford on the day rent is due - even if it’s only $20. Nothing is worse than a tenant dodging a landlord. If you dodge your landlord, you will only make things worse in the long run.

Adjust Rent Due Date

If you recently changed jobs and your paydates changed, see if your landlord will adjust the date that rent is due to correspond with your pay cycle. This could mean that you pay rent twice a month. On payday, make sure you pay your landlord. Also be sure to get any changes to your original agreement in writing. This protects both you and your landlord.

Pay with Services

In today’s tough economy you may be able to barter services. If your landlord owns a significant amount of property, see if you can mow their lawns in return for reduced rent. If you live in an area where vacancies are high and landlords are having trouble keeping paying tenants in their properties, your bartering potential can increase. It never hurts to put together a proposal and ask. Just don’t be unreasonable. A landlord is not going to let you live rent-free in return for walking their dog.


Some landlords just won’t work with you. This is within their rights as property owners. If you get yourself in a situation where you can’t live somewhere, talk to your landlord about your situation. See if you can at least get early termination penalties waived (in writing). If you have to move out, clean your home to keep goodwill between you and your landlord. You never know when you will need a place to live again.