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Start a conversation about rent repayment

Eviction can be costly and difficult for renters and landlords. In addition to applying for emergency rental assistance, renters and landlords may benefit from having a conversation about options for a repayment plan.

Have you applied for rental assistance?

Right now, state and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in federal money to help cover housing costs.

Landlords can start the process in most areas.

Many rental assistance programs are accepting applications from both landlords and renters. Where renters can apply, they often need help from landlords to complete the application process.

Working together, you’ll have a better chance of getting rental assistance funds.

Find a rental assistance program for your state, tribe, or local area

Learn about eligibility and what the money covers

Consider your options

Renters, be realistic about what you can afford to pay each month. Don’t overpromise—your relationship is built on trust.

Landlords, repayment agreements can help you avoid a long and expensive eviction process.

If you do come to an agreement, put all the details in writing to make sure you're on the same page. This way you can refer back to a single document. Make sure you agree on how much you owe, including any late fees or other charges.

Options How it works When this is a good option

Adjust due dates

Rent due dates are changed to align better with payday, or split into multiple payments over the month.

Renters who are juggling multiple bills may find it hard to come up with the full rent payment on the first of the month. It might be easier to break rent payments into two smaller payments each month.

Waive late fee

Late fees and interest are forgiven as long as some payment is made.

Landlords might be willing to skip the usual penalties, as long as renters keep up with paying an amount that you both agree on.

Agree to lower rent payments

A smaller rent payment is accepted, as long as some amount is paid each month.

Landlords may be willing to accept a smaller payment for a few months, as long as renters pay the agreed-on amount each month. You can also combine this with a rent repayment plan.

Repayment plan

Back rent is repaid over a period of time, say, six months to a year. A portion of the amount owed is added to each month’s rent payment.

Renters may feel more confident about making bigger payments once they get back on their feet. Some renters might also expect money soon, like from a child tax credit or a bonus, that can be used to repay a chunk of the amount owed. 

Start the conversation with these tips

Clear the air

If it’s been hard to have a conversation about your money struggles, or if you’ve been unavailable to talk, make a point to say so, and recognize any part you may have played in delaying this important conversation.

Acknowledge the hardships you're both facing

Many renters have been struggling financially, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Landlords, if your tenant is facing an income shortfall, you can acknowledge what your tenant is going through and learn more about their efforts to make ends meet.

Renters, explain what you’ve been doing to try and catch up on rent.

Explain why you want to work things out

Landlords, don’t assume your tenant knows where you’re coming from. Let your tenant know what you appreciate about them and why you would like them to stay. You can also let them know if you depend on rental income to cover mortgage, insurance and other costs.

Renters, start by helping your landlord understand why this conversation is important to you. What would it mean for you and your family to remain housed where you are? Is your home close to work and school? What do you appreciate about your landlord, your home, or your neighborhood? Don’t assume that your landlord knows.