Evictions were already an issue in the United States prior to COVID-19. Many people sign onto leases that they are not able to pay for the long term. For instance, tenants could experience job loss and may be unable to earn the same salaries that they did in the past. A number of different issues could lead a person to be unable to pay their monthly rent and therefore cause an eviction.
However, the pandemic worsened the issues that already existed. In America, millions live paycheck-to-paycheck. And while renters might have once been able to just keep up with their rent payments, even a temporary layoff could result in an inability to make good on those monthly payments.
Initially, an eviction moratorium was put in place. This would prevent landlords from evicting tenants due to unpaid rent, understanding that the pandemic caused many people to go without jobs. While this was a temporary fix, it did not change the fact that people were without incomes and may not have the ability to find new jobs in a timely manner. Essentially, Americans were experiencing not only job loss but job shortages, which meant that they were not able to change their income status prior to the moratorium’s end.
Now that the eviction moratorium has ended, people are left in the same (or worse) financial positions that they were in when the moratorium began and without the ability to effectively address them. Some people have been encouraged to change their careers and work from home, but this is not always an accessible option. Teleworking jobs are currently prized, with more competition for them than ever before. Although 64 million U.S. employees hold a job that’s compatible with part-time telework, millions more have been laid off permanently during COVID-19. The pandemic lasted longer than some expected, which meant that lawmakers did not renew the eviction moratorium. This leaves many people on their own, attempting to prevent their evictions. Fortunately, there are strategies that can be employed to prevent eviction. Although seeking out legal help should be one of the first steps you take, there are others you should keep in mind. With the right money moves, tenants may be able to stay in their rental homes and avoid the trauma that comes with eviction.
1. Explore Local Assistance
Those who cannot afford to pay rent may first want to explore whether or not there are local options for financial assistance that they can access. These programs often offer emergency assistance to people that have no other options and will otherwise be forced out of their rental homes.
These emergency assistance programs may cover rent or they may offer assistance in the form of legal representation. No matter what, it’s important that those applying for this kind of assistance have documentation available to prove their need. They should also keep in mind that they may be competing with lots of people interested in doing the same thing. Therefore, these resources should be considered but not necessarily depended upon.
2. Work Out a Payment Plan
The reality is that a lot of people are not able to balance their current rent payments with all of the other payments they are already making. Americans need to pay their rent, of course. But at the same time, they are coping with other basic living expenses like food, utilities, medical bills, and much more. Individuals who have children, and particularly those who have divorced, need to furthermore consider child support and alimony payments as well. A 2018 survey revealed that about 45% of matrimonial attorneys had noticed an uptick in women making alimony payments. Anyone making those types of payments understands how difficult it is to balance them with rent.
Therefore, those who are unable to pay rent in full should reach out to their landlords. Not all landlords are willing or will be able to work out payment plans with their tenants. However, many will — perhaps more often than tenants might assume. The reason why these payment plans often appeal to landlords is that it can be more expensive for them to find new tenants than it would be for them to work out a payment plan with existing tenants. Tenants have legal rights, after all, and many landlords are not eager to move into the legal process that is eviction even when it’s legal. Furthermore, landlords are more willing to work with tenants who would normally be able to make their payments on time. Often, these plans will break up payments until tenants are up to date — after which they will be able to resume their regular payments as usual.
3. Sell Something For Cash
If an individual isn’t able to find resources through local emergency assistance and if a landlord isn’t willing to work with them, it’s time for them to start looking at what they can sell. Some of the best candidates for sale are non-sentimental items that they don’t need and can eventually replace. While a television set is largely used for entertainment, for example, a computer can’t be sold if an individual wants to work from home.
While yard sales are currently not very accessible, there are other ways in which people can quickly sell items. This would include working through websites like eBay and Craigslist. Additionally, pawn shops are readily available and can offer quick cash for items like jewelry, furniture, and much more. While it can be difficult to sell these items, sometimes it’s necessary in order to pay rent. Keep in mind that one out of every seven people lacks adequate shelter. The last thing that an individual wants is to lose adequate shelter because they didn’t want to make accommodations acknowledging the difficulties that come with eviction moratoriums.
4. Take Odd Jobs
Most Americans are understandably moving towards long-term jobs and new careers. But the reality is that many of them will need to start considering odd jobs in order to pay their rent. Some of these may not be career builders. However, even mowing a neighbor’s lawn or babysitting can help an individual pay their rent.
Additionally, people should begin working with temporary employment agencies. These can provide them with short-term job opportunities, some of which are perfectly suited for their resumes and can provide them with connections that will lead to long-term opportunities.
Although it is difficult for Americans to function with the current demands that come with looking for jobs and avoid the coronavirus, eviction is not inevitable. There are options available for people that are attempting to survive. They just need to be open to exploring them.