What to Do if You Cannot Afford Your Rent or Mortgage Due to the Pandemic
It is no secret that so many people are struggling to make their rent or mortgage payments due to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy. Not knowing whether or not you will be able to keep a roof over your head is quite a stressful ordeal. Many have found themselves wondering what is next for them and how they will make ends meet. If you are having trouble paying your mortgage or rent due to decreased hours at work or a layoff, there are some options available for you.
Perhaps you own your home; in this case, you will need to speak with the company you make your mortgage payments to. This would be your loan servicer. You can go over options with them to figure out a payment plan that fits your current needs. It is so important to reach out for help as soon as you know you won’t make your next payment. There are certain resources and tools in place to delay payments during the pandemic and many lenders are giving homeowners some leeway in this area. If you have a lender who is refusing to work with you on this, you may opt to report them to the attorney general’s office in your state as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They are bound to certain responsibilities under the law. Another option is to speak with your bank; many banks offer programs for struggling homeowners to assist them in this area. These application processes can be quite lengthy since there are many people requesting assistance so it is a good idea to get started as soon as you know you will require help. If you are unable to find help this way, you can also look into personal loan options with your bank to hold you over for a period of time. You can also seek out something called “loan forbearance,” which is a way for homeowners to defer their mortgage payments until a later date due to financial hardship. Keep in mind that your interest will accrue during this time and it is a probability that you will owe more on your home in the long term since you aren’t paying down the balance.
If you rent your residence, make sure to give your landlord as much notice as you can in a situation like this. If you have a good history and have made all of your payments on time and not caused any issues on the property, your landlord will most likely work with you and allow you to set up a payment plan or make a partial payment. While some landlords usually do not accept partial payments, given the state of the world, they might make an exception. A payment plan would likely involve spreading the late rent over the following months until you are caught up. When you speak with your landlord about your situation, make sure to have a plan for how you are going to get caught up. Don’t simply ask for them to forgive your rent. If you aren’t able to make even a partial payment, you can ask if you are able to miss a month in order to regain employment or obtain the money and then divide the missed amount over a certain period of time. It is important to be as honest as possible about your situation when requesting an extension from your landlord and you’ll need to assure them that you are doing all that you can to stay on top of things. Landlords have bills to pay as well, and you are likely not the only tenant who is requesting a bit of leeway.
Housing is essential and should be considered before other bills. Utility companies and others such as internet companies are more likely to be a bit lenient, not to mention these bills are much less expensive than rent or mortgage. If you are able to temporarily offset some of your financial stress by working with a utility or internet company on alternative payment options, this will allow you to allocate more funds toward your rent. The impact of falling behind on rent or a mortgage payment is much more severe than missing one utility bill. Catching up on housing payments is much more stressful on a person than catching up on other smaller bills. Many utility companies are offering hardship assistance for those who are unable to make payments. No one wants to be in a situation where they cannot afford housing. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and explore all of your options. There are programs in place to assist you during this time.