What To Do If You Lose Your Job While Renting

Assess Your Finances

It may be that if you’re careful, you can continue to pay rent and bills and buy food for several months. Determine what’s a necessity and what can be cut for the time being. Then conclude how long you could live unemployed with the money you currently have. You can take more drastic measures regarding your lease if you get closer to running out of money

Find out what programs you’re eligible for

Though budgets have tightened in the past few years, the government does still provide some measure of a safety net. You might qualify for unemployment benefits, rent allowance, and/or food stamps. Factor these into the calculations mentioned above. But do beware—it can sometimes take months for the money to show up. Also, look into what laws your state may have protecting people who lose their jobs.

Talk to your landlord

This is up to you—do you feel your landlord will be receptive to your circumstances, or kick you out on the street? At some point in this process, though, you might have to explain what’s going on. It may be that your landlord would lose less money by allowing you to defer some of your rent until you get another job, rather than evicting you and living without that income until a new tenant signs the lease. Explain where you are financially, what efforts you’re undertaking to make paying your rent a financial priority, what money you’ll be getting from the government and when, and what you’re doing to get a new job. In other words, give your landlord a reason to trust and empathize with you. We should emphasize, however, that this conversation only need take place if you CANNOT pay your rent. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

Try to get out of the lease with minimal penalties

If you do have to break your lease, try to make it as painless as possible. Check your lease—if your landlord hasn’t met all her stipulations, you may be able to leave without penalty. Or perhaps you have a sympathetic landlord who won’t want to make your finances more difficult. See if you can work out a deal where you’ll pay whatever you’re able until a new tenant is found. And consider offering to forfeit your security deposit and call it even.

For loads of (more detailed) good advice, check out these articles on the New York Times website. Share your own tips here or on Facebook!

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