I Can't Pay Rent this Month, What Now?

Fran Majidi
April 1, 2020

It’s the first of the month and you don’t have the rent money. Unemployment has not begun paying yet, and the stimulus check is nowhere in sight. What can you do? First, know that you are not alone. Over 3 million Americans filed claims for unemployment insurance the week ending March 21. By most estimates, coronavirus-related layoffs and reduced hours may be over 6 million in the past two weeks alone.

Second, know that there is a moratorium on evictions in most states. No one can kick you out of your home while we’re in the midst of a fast-spreading pandemic. Most landlords are also exempt from having to make mortgage payments to ease the burden of uncollected rent. The moratorium covers nearly half of all single-family homes and multifamily buildings. However, some landlords are still obligated to make their mortgage payments, even if tenants can’t pay. If you’re caught in this sort of tangle, we can help answer your questions.

Can I Get Evicted if I Don’t Pay Rent?

The government stimulus includes a moratorium on evictions financed with a federally-backed mortgage. At least 34 states and many cities have issued broader moratoriums that apply to all rental units. Most last 30 to 90 days. If your situation is one not covered by these measures, note that courts are not in session, so evictions will not be executed, even if your landlord starts the process. Most eviction cases are being suspended until late April, possibly well into May and even later if the crisis persists. Not all states have issued moratoriums, however.

Make sure you are making timely payments if you live in a state without a moratorium, especially if courts are still in session in your area. The enhanced unemployment insurance benefits to furloughed and laid-off workers is a $600 weekly supplement on top of the average $300 to $400 check from the state. You will be eligible for this benefit for up to 39 weeks. You’ll also be receiving the $1,200 stimulus check from the federal government in the coming weeks.

If My Rent is Paused, Do I Still Have to Pay it?

Yes, because the rent is being deferred, not forgiven. There are talks about cancellation of rent payments during the crisis, but for now it’s only a deferment. There may be special discounts applied on a case-by-case basis.

Some States Are Helping Renters Avoid Eviction

In some states, like Delaware, not only are landlords barred from evicting tenants until the emergency declaration is lifted, but the state will pay up to $1,500 to renters who’ve lost jobs or hours due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In Florida, the Supreme Court limited the number of evictions, a measure that has confused many who are yet unsure if they will be evicted or not. In Georgia and Colorado (two out of 12 states without a moratorium), leaders are urging landlords not to evict tenants but are not passing any laws to forbid them to do so. In Arizona, renters are only safe from eviction if they prove they are infected with the virus or have suffered a “substantial loss of income” due to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s important to contact your senator or governor’s office if you’re unsure what the laws are in your state.

Will Renters Insurance Cover Rent During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Unfortunately renters insurance will not cover rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. Renters insurance covers your possessions from theft or loss. The only time it would cover other expenses would be if you had to vacate the premises and take lodging elsewhere.

Some insurance companies have offered temporary payment suspensions to renters insurance. In some states, like California, there is a 60-day grace period without penalty fees for making payments on your renters insurance.

What if Someone Gets Infected with COVID-19 While at My Home? Can I Be Sued?

What constitutes “an affected area” is a broad legal question which will be in contention in the coming months. However, your renters insurance will not cover it because most homeowners and renters insurance policies have exclusions on viruses and pathogens. However, if a delivery person gets hurt while on your property, your renters insurance may cover your legal bills if a claim is filed against you.

Why Should I Buy Renters Insurance?

It’s important for anyone renting a home or apartment to have renters insurance. Especially now, you may be able to get a very reasonable rate. If you are homebound more than ever, it makes sense to get the right coverage for your home and possessions. A landlord’s policy will not cover any of your belongings or accidents. If you don’t have renters coverage or want a better rate, start a free renters insurance quote.

Whether you’re renting an apartment unit or live in a rented home or condo, you need to have renters insurance to cover your belongings in case they are damaged, vandalized or stolen. Think about all the things you own and how much it would cost to cover it all if your home was broken into. Or, what if there was a leak from upstairs and all your things got soaked?

People often wrongly assume that their belongings are covered by their landlord’s insurance, but that’s not the case. Also, most people are unaware that renters insurance protects them against lawsuits. Increasingly, apartment complexes are requiring renters insurance, but even when it’s not required, it’s wise to protect yourself with renters insurance.

Some common perils that are covered by renters insurance include fire, burglary, lawsuits for injuries on the premises, dog bites, items stolen out of a car, luggage lost at the airport, bus station or train station, if your clothes disappear at the dry cleaners, if you’re sued for slander, if you hurt a pedestrian while riding your bike and if your television gets destroyed due to wiring issues in the building or home.

Is Renters Insurance Required?

If you own a home or condo you need homeowners insurance. In many apartment communities it has become a requirement to carry renters insurance if you hope to sign a lease. Some condo owners will not rent out their property if you aren’t covered too. However, even when it’s not required on the part of an owner or manager, you do need renters insurance. If you do not have it and your personal belongings are destroyed or stolen your landlord’s insurance will not cover your possessions. That is your responsibility. If you are uninsured and you are left without belongings, you’ll have to buy everything at your own cost.

Get a Free Renters Insurance Quote.

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