Some areas of the country currently have COVID-related eviction moratoriums, but others are carrying on with business as usual. As such, many landlords who are dealing with residents who cannot or are not paying rent may be considering evictions. These are typically a last resort since they can be messy, and most landlords would prefer to have paying tenants (even if payment is not in full). If you are a landlord struggling with non-paying tenants, there are a number of alternatives to eviction that can allow you to recover some or all of the funds you are owed. Continue reading for a guide on strategies for tenants to avoid evictions.
STRATEGY 1: EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE
Landlords can pursue emergency rental assistance from the federal government, which can help to cover rent previously owed, rent to be owed, and unpaid utilities. Billions of dollars have been set aside for this assistance program, which requires submission of a formal application.
STRATEGY 2: WORK OUT ALTERNATE PAYMENT
Landlords can arrange new contracts with tenants or offer a credit card option as a way to work out alternate payment plans. With regard to new contracts, this means landlords can rearrange when their tenants are paying rent. For example, perhaps bi-weekly rent payment ensures more consistent rental payments as opposed to monthly payments. With regard to a credit card option, these are typically not used for rental payments given the potential interest burden, but this may also ensure more consistent rental payments.
STRATEGY 3: NEGOTIATE RENT REDUCTION
Landlords can negotiate reduced rent with their tenants if it makes sense. Evictions can take up a meaningful amount of time, money and energy. If the rental lease is almost up, then agreeing to rent reduction may be more practical and optimal than pursuing eviction. This reduction does not necessarily have to be large. Sometimes small rent reductions can make all the difference between on-time and overdue payments.
STRATEGY 4: SEEK MEDIATION
Landlords may consider involving an independent third party that can help advise on the situation. With mediation, this third party would get up to speed on the specifics, how much money is owed, and so on. They will ask relevant questions and assess the feasibility of coming to an agreement based on the financial positions of each party. From there, the mediator can help to brainstorm potential solutions that may work for both the landlords and the tenants.
STRATEGY 5: CASH-FOR-KEYS APPROACH
Landlords can consider a cash-for-keys approach, which typically only makes sense if the landlord has another tenant lined up for the property and the rental lease has a long remaining duration. While it may seem counterintuitive, in this situation, the landlords pay the tenants to leave their property. This of course incurs an initial cost but can actually save more money in the long-run, especially if the new tenant(s) are comparatively more responsible with their rental payments.
Overall, being a landlord these days can be especially tough given the financial burden that COVID has placed on so many people around the country. However, if you are a landlord, know that eviction is not your only option!