Behind On Rent? 3 Strategies That Could Help

By: James Flippin · March 24, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

End of an Era

The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented set of circumstances that made it tricky for many people to pay their bills. To compensate for this unique situation, federal and local governments put various safety nets in place. Rental assistance and rent increase protections are a few of the ways some cities tried to provide aid.

With that said, the COVID-19 public health emergency is officially set to end on May 11, and more than 5 million American households are still behind on rent. During the first two weeks of February, tenants owed a combined $11 billion in rental debt with the average renter owing $2,094.

What Can You Do?

For people who are still trying to get up to date on their rent payments, there are a number of relief options available.

First, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your rights as a tenant. These rights were expanded during the pandemic. Some states put limitations on how much a landlord can raise rent. If you were hit with a hefty rent increase that you’re struggling to pay, it could be worth investigating whether that raise was legal.

Additionally, despite the fact that the official end of the public health emergency is less than two months away, many government rental assistance programs are still accepting applications. This varies on a state-by-state basis, and you can learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance program on the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website .

Paying Off Debt

Another option you might try is to contact your landlord to request an extension or payment plan. If push comes to shove, and your landlord attempts to evict you, it may be in your best interest to seek legal counsel.

According to a study in New Orleans, roughly 65% of tenants without legal representation were evicted. Meanwhile, 15% of those who had a lawyer present at their hearing were not evicted. Tenants who live in states like Washington, Maryland, and Connecticut currently have a right to free counsel.

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