It really is all about the Benjamins.

In the time of COVID-19: I CAN’T PAY MY RENT. NOW WHAT?

Christine Schneider

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7 step plan to getting rent relief.

The current pandemic will result in job loss for many Americans. If you have lost your job, don’t worry — you are in very good company.

If you are like most people, your student loan payments and your rent are your largest monthly expenses. Federal agencies are just beginning to formulate plans for relief that might help both landlords and tenants (and student loan borrowers, although that’s a topic for another article). Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have authorized lenders to allow property owners/borrowers to delay their loan payments in exchange for an agreement that the property owners won’t evict their tenants who default on their lease obligations solely because of non payment of rent. And even if the Fannie and Freddie guidelines don’t apply, many property owners will be willing to grant rent reductions during this pandemic due to job loss.

As a commercial real estate attorney and real estate broker, I have been through two economic down cycles (early 1990s, when I started practicing law, and again in 2007–2009). I have been on both sides of negotiations involving economic distress, and getting great deals for the underdog has (secretly?) been my favorite part of practicing law.

There are many ways to play this, but here is one way. Set forth below are simple, step-by-step instructions for requesting a rent reduction from your landlord.

  1. Hatch a Plan. First, think through how you will substantiate the reasons you can’t pay rent on time, and relate this to the COVID-19 pandemic, if applicable. Keep in mind that many of the programs for relief are limited solely to job loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Write out a brief description of what has happened, which you can use both on the phone with the landlord or property manager as well as in the letter discussed below. It’s best to have a script, because it is nerve-wracking to ask for concessions!
  2. Use Your Inside Phone Voice. While in person visits are often the most persuasive, that’s not the case today. Take a deep breath, and call the landlord or property management office to discuss a possible rent modification. Explain the situation briefly, and let them know that you do intend to…

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Christine Schneider

Atlanta, Georgia. Books, cocktails, theatre, art, writing, music, real estate, but not always in that order. Vice Chair of Board of Actor’s Express Theatre.