It’s okay if you don’t readily have the money for your rent. However, making up acceptable reasons for late rent payments, especially dishonest ones, is not always advisable.
You won’t be the first tenant with a problem paying rent on time or in full. Besides, most landlords won’t evict you for paying your rent a little late if you are an honest and conscientious tenant who is temporarily short on funds.
Acceptable reasons for late rent payments
Perhaps, the following reasons (or excuses) will add up in your situation:
“I had my other bills to pay.”
Rent should be the priority even though all bills are a concern.
There will be no bill for power if you do not have a roof over your head. Thus, the rent should be paid first even though other expenses along with gas and power bills have to be paid.
“My vehicle broke down and I had to make repairs.”
With an emergency fund, you can handle this excuse. Rent payments should not be left out because of the cropping up of other expenses. Money should be set aside to handle important emergencies so that you don’t neglect rent payments.
“I just lost my job.”
This is reasonable for late rent payments (if true). However, you still need to pay the rent even though you are concerned about your job loss.
At the minimum, people should be able to cover expenses for a couple of months by having sufficient emergency funds. Again, job loss can only buy time and does not mean you shouldn’t pay your rent.
By the way, if you’ve been fired unfairly, you may be able to sue your employee.
“It’s in the mail.”
Some tenants use this reason, even when it’s just an excuse for not paying the rent. Perhaps, if you have the money but can’t have access to it immediately, this is a good reason to provide the landlord.
There are many ways of paying the rent without having to make the excuse of relying on the postal service. A quick, easy and efficient way of paying is to set up online payments.
Ensure that your rent arrives on the day it is due if you pay by mail, or by mailing the check a week in advance.
“Job shorted my paycheck.”
Did your employer indeed short your check? It could be an honest mistake, so keep your detailed records and learn to read your paycheck. Make sure to report the error to your boss, supervisor, or human resources. Consider talking to your coworkers to see if they’ve noticed any discrepancies. Otherwise, your boss may be violating a paycheck law.
On the flip side, you should have funds set aside to cover this kind of emergency if it frequently takes place. You need to be prepared for such a situation if you work on an hourly rate and possibly do not get as many hours in a month.
“The first was a Sunday.”
Rent has to be paid on the day it falls, regardless of the day of the week. If it is easier for you, you can make an online payment or pay it ahead of time if it falls on a Sunday. You can do banking any day of the week by using the simple and convenient means of email transfers.
“We paid for repairs.”
If this is true, you could easily land your landlord in a mess. Usually, however, repairs to be made should be discussed by you and the landlord ahead of time.
It could perhaps be agreed that receipts will be provided for some repairs paid for by you, and take the amount off the rent. The landlord may not be responsible for the costs if you completed repairs without informing them.
“You’ve not completed the repairs.”
This is another acceptable reason for late rent payments. However, it can force a bad relationship between a renter and the landlord, even if it’s true.
Rent payment cannot be withheld even when maintenance issues have not been taken care of on time by a bad landlord. Regardless of the required repairs to be made, rent has to be paid with the hope that the landlord will complete the necessary repairs.
“I visited to pay the rent but you were not available.”
If you have to personally pay the rent to a company during business hours, make sure you get there. You will be best off using another method of payment if you will be prevented by something to go when the office is open.
You can set up an appointment the day before by calling ahead if you are paying to an individual, or if there will not be anyone at home, ask if there is a place to drop the check.
“The rent is with my partner and they promised to drop it off for me.”
This will be reasonable if you have the money to pay within 48 hours. Also, note that the landlord will be expecting the payment as soon as it gets to you.
Usually, it is best to arrange for someone else to drop the money when your partner is too busy.
Do’s and don’ts as a tenant
Below are the things you should do when your rent payment will be delayed:
a. Negotiate a partial or delayed payment
You may avoid an eviction lawsuit if you’re upfront with your landlord about paying your rent late. And if you are a good tenant, the landlord wouldn’t want to lose you—it’s even expensive and difficult to evict a tenant and find a good one.
Your landlord may be willing to accept part of the rent until you have the rest of the balance. Just make sure to ask your landlord for additional days. You can make your request in writing. Try to explain the reason you can’t make the payment on time and emphasize that it’s temporary.
If you have the money, offer to pay some of the rent. Try to give the landlord a fixed date you believe you’d be able to make the rent payment (pick a date you won’t fail).
Explain to your landlord the rent delay won’t occur again and that you’d be paying on time going forward.
If your apartment has a late fee policy, you’d be paying a late fee. Refer to your lease. Your landlord may even be willing to waive the late fee if you ask nicely.
b. Don’t ignore your situation
The problem won’t go away if you ignore it. Instead, it’ll only contribute to making your rental history poorer.
Some landlords may be counting on your check to cover the mortgage payment, so without the money, they could default on it. Never ignore your landlord’s emails or phone calls even if you don’t have the money.
c. Don’t send a check that’ll bounce
You might think this will buy you more time, but it’ll damage the relationship with your landlord instead. Your landlord will get infuriated about your sneaky behavior and may try to evict you.
Perhaps, you’re sending in a bad check to get around the late fee policy mentioned on the lease. Unfortunately, this does not stop the policy from kicking in. Moreover, a bounced check is grounds for a landlord to terminate the contract.
A landlord can legally (but reasonably) charge you if your rent check bounces. It can be an amount similar to what the bank charges for a returned check, which costs between $20 and $50. Some landlords will inform you in advance that a bounced check fee is imposed if you issue a bad check.
If you’re a good tenant, your landlord won’t want to lose you. It’ll cost the landlord to evict or even find a new tenant that won’t cause them trouble after moving in.
Finally, the chance is that your landlord will accept a portion of the rent while expecting the rest later—propose this offer to your landlord.