How to come up with an emergency $80 in Dallas today?
June 9, 2010 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I need suggestions as to how to make an emergency $80 by the end of today. I have nothing of real value to sell or pawn, I am ineligible to sell plasma, and my friends are all unable to help me at this time. I am in Dallas and I am pretty scared.

I came home today to a note stuck to my door from my landlord. I was $80 short on rent this month and initially he led me to believe that it'd be okay to pay him when I get my next paycheck this coming friday. The note says otherwise - that I have until this evening to make payment or I have to be out. I have nowhere else to go.

This is a boardinghouse I live in - nice, clean, quiet but with no real lease - so I'm afraid standard eviction laws will not be applicable here. Mr. Landlord has not answered my calls today. I'm at my wits end. After having my hours at my job cut severely a month ago, they were reinstated last week and getting back on my feet is in very clear sight. This hump just seems impassable, even though it's a small amount of money. I have no clue how to raise the funds.

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (50 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about lawn work- maybe mowing your neighbor's lawn for 15 or 20 bucks a pop? If you did a few lawns on your street that could add up pretty quickly.
posted by timpanogos at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2010

Your profile says you are in a relationship. Maybe it would be worthwhile to ask your partner.
posted by bingo at 10:45 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's not ideal, but what about a payday loan? Although the rates are usurious, you're talking about two days' interest plus a lending fee.

On a typical payday loan, your $80 should cost $100. It's not ideal, but it moves your situation from "impassable" to "expensive."
posted by MuffinMan at 10:45 AM on June 9, 2010 [9 favorites]

Could you speak to your boss or payroll to ask for your check early? You could also write a check and date it for Friday.
posted by spec80 at 10:45 AM on June 9, 2010

In some situations like this, your employer will lend you the money against your next paycheck. At larger companies there will be a policy about this, at smaller ones it's often case-by-case.

Other than that, payday lenders suck, but this is the sort of situation they're occasionally useful for.

Cash advance on a credit card?

Do you have a bank account with overdraft protection you can make an atm withdrawal against?
posted by mercredi at 10:46 AM on June 9, 2010

The first thing that came to mind is intentionally overdrawing on your checking account, if you have one. It's crappy to pay the fee, but it's a quick way to get some loaner money if you're REALLY desperate.
posted by inmediasres at 10:46 AM on June 9, 2010

Panhandle! Make a sign explaining situation. Of course it might be illegal to beg. Can someone at work front you the money until you get paid, like maybe your boss?

Go to the closest church and ask them for help, then go to another. Go to the closest homeless shelter and ask them.

I feel for you. Good luck!
posted by mareli at 10:47 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

My first thoughts are: be prepared to grab your stuff and go.

I've slept in a car in mall and hotel parking lots while traveling.

Are you comfortable asking anyone for a couch to crash on? Try

Know anybody who could use help with an odd job? Moving? setting up speaker wires? You could exchange for money, dinner, or a floor to sleep on.
posted by jander03 at 10:48 AM on June 9, 2010

if you have a credit card, you could maybe think about buying some kind of gift card at a super market (say a best buy card or whatever) then go down to best buy and try to get someone to buy it from you...
posted by refractal at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2010

This is location dependent, but if you are on a month to month lease, he probably can not kick you out with less then 1 day's notice. Especially if you paid most of your month's rent. Post dated checks can be cleared immediately so don't do that. A Payday lender may be reasonable if you want to avoid a confrontation.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

What exactly did the note say? Most likely it's what my previous apartment called a "CMA" letter - to "cover their ass" in case I didn't pay the remainder when I said I would, they could kick me out quickly instead of waiting till after I didn't pay when I said I would. I was able to pay the next week and they never evicted me.

I've been through this same thing time and time again.

Where in Dallas are you?
posted by jesirose at 10:52 AM on June 9, 2010

Don't do the giftcard thing. If you have a credit card, and I've done this before so I know it works, you can go to a foreign exchange place and do a cash advance on your credit card. They charge you something like 10%-15%. I did this once in an emergency on a Sunday (so no bank's open) when I lost my ATM card.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Doesn't directly answer your question, but have you looked up rental laws in your state? Most landlord's cannot legally just kick you out if you don't have the rent. In NYC, at least, this is regardless of the existence of a lease or not. If they have let you live there in any way, shape or form, they can't just give you the boot.

On preview: what An algorithmic dog said.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2010

Eta: unless they already gave you one eviction notice, legally he can't kick you out TONITE. You get at least a week, maybe more, from the notice to quit.
posted by jesirose at 10:54 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Texas Tenants Union, in Dallas, you should call and ask them. You probably have more rights than you think.
posted by lee at 10:56 AM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

I'm going to agree that your first call should be to tenant's rights orgs.
posted by josher71 at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

You've likely done this (so apologies if there's really nothing), but give a quick reexamine of anything you own to make sure you couldn't sell it for $80. If you have any video games, cds, dvds, (books maybe?) or the like you could sell them at Gamestop/FYE/wherever and at least get partway there. If it'll really screw you up to get kicked out and this is the difference between making it and not, you can always buy the stuff back.

Also, if you've already paid a significant amount of the rent, then inform the landlord they would have to refund you a prorated amount for the days you've already paid for, they don't get to kick you out AND keep your money. I assume they want to hang on to that money, and thus don't want to (or maybe legally can't) kick you out.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:59 AM on June 9, 2010

"It's unfortunately pouring rain here today."

holding back the snark. i am Hercules.

go mow the lawns. in the rain. if it were me, and someone showed up on my porch asking if they could mow the lawn for a couple bucks in the pouring rain, id GIVE them $80. At the very least, they're going to pay you a lot more because you clearly need it, not just scrounging beer money.
posted by nihlton at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Definitely call the union! If they tell you that you have rights, get the local police on your side too. Good luck!
posted by Lizsterr at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

He cannot kick you out. If he tries you need to call the police. When they see that you have established residency (meaning you have your stuff there) they will tell him to take you to court and get an eviction notice. This takes time. He has absolutely no right to throw you out on the street.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2010 [30 favorites]

Do you have a car? There are places where you can get a loan against the value of your car. Basically, you sign the title over to them, and then you pay it back gradually at a high interest rate. It's not something to be done lightly, but it would probably get you more than $80.
posted by bingo at 11:01 AM on June 9, 2010

Definitely call the union if you think he is going to illegally evict you. I know police in many places do not take kindly to that, so it is likely he won't if he knows you know your rights.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

... and I have terrible credit.

It's not a bank, it's a payday loan. Are you making less than $80 per paycheck? You should be able to get a loan. The repayment fee borders on usury, but they exist for people who can't get normal loans.
posted by chunking express at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Legal threats, "I spoke with a lawyer and the Tenants Union" etc. Can work WONDERS in getting the person to back off for long enough for you to fix the situation. Not that you'd have to actually persue anything legal, but just informing them that you've been doing the research and are informed about the situation may be enough to let them know that the headache of trying to evict you isn't worth it.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:03 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

Do you sing? play the guitar? or do magic? I understand the street performers in Chicago can make at least as much as you need in a night. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
posted by ChicagoTherapyConnection at 11:03 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

IANAL, but I would be astonished to learn that your landlord would be legally able to kick you out with one day's notice like that. Of course, it may not be very useful for you to merely shout "THIS IS AGAINST THE LAW" while being locked out of your apartment. Should anything like that happen, god forbid, you should look up legal clinics in your area.

You should still try for the payday loan at this point. The advantage of dealing with predatory lenders is that, right now, you are choice, willing prey.

I also second the ideas of selling ANY AND ALL DVDs, video games, books, CDs, etc. that you can. Also, do you have a jar of spare change? I had a modest jar which was filled with $80+.

Also, call the cops and the union if your landlord tries anything funny. Good luck.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2010

Ask your bank if they will put an overdrawal service on your account (ask for $100 - more, if they'll let you have it). I know you say your credit is bad, but it's worth a try and can be done immediately. Then, you would be able to write a check or just take the cash out directly.
posted by kitcat at 11:07 AM on June 9, 2010

Obviously consult your lawyer, but even without a lease, some searching online makes it appear that if they illegally evict you in Texas (not at least 3 days notice, etc, etc) by locking you out, then you could go to a judge and they could give you a "writ of re-entry" which literally lets you back in whether they want you there or not. You do have rights, find out what they are exactly and exert them.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:10 AM on June 9, 2010

I agre with a lot of the above:

--Spare change to the Coinstar machine at your local grocery store
--Returnable bottles?
--Sell books, CDs, DVDs
--Overdraft your checking account (the fee will be $20 or 25, but not for a few weeks)
--There's no harm in *trying* for a payday loan. Besides, I would think people in situations like yours are precisely their primary customer.
posted by kestrel251 at 11:10 AM on June 9, 2010

Sorry, when I say "your lawyer" I mean whomever is knowledgable and freely available on texas tenants law. I know most people, myself included, do not have a lawyer on hand for these sorts of things.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:12 AM on June 9, 2010

If you have a car, there are also car title loans.
posted by mercredi at 11:14 AM on June 9, 2010

Do you have collateral to give your landlord? What did you use to post this question? Offer it to him until Friday.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:15 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you won't do a payday loan, do you have a checking account with a debit card? Overdraft your account. Many banks will let you pull out more than you have even at the ATM. Your overdraft fees might not be that much more than a payday loan.
posted by spaltavian at 11:15 AM on June 9, 2010

Also, it is a lot harder to kick you out, illegally or otherwise, if you are IN the apartment/room than if you are not. Be inside, call police if they try to enter.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2010

Seems to me that you should also at least get the prorated time of your short rent payment. If your rent is $240 and you paid $160, shouldn't you get at least 20 days? Today is not the 20th!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:19 AM on June 9, 2010

Convince someone you're a good credit risk (assuming you are), and borrow from them. Alternatively, convince four people you're good to borrow $20 each from them. You say your friends are unable to help, so you're essentially going to be approaching people you hardly or don't know. If you have a good story, and are willing to pay people back I'd think it's totally possible. Panhandling can make this much, and there's no hope of repayment there.

You could of course combine this with selling anything you can. In the future, aggressively plan to not get in this situation by reducing your spending. Not that I know what you're spending, but obviously you couldn't make rent so you're going to want to arrange things so you're not stuck in this horrible spot again.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2010

Have you looked through the gigs on Craigslist? There's someone looking for a person to cover a meeting in North Dallas tonight for $50.

Also try looking through the free stuff to see if there's something you might be able to pick up and pawn (or sell) quickly, if you have a vehicle or could borrow one. Like a working air hockey table!
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:28 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've never lived in Texas and I ain't no fancy lawyer, but in every state I have lived in tenant's rights always apply. It's your home, you can't just be thrown out at the end of the day, regardless of if you have a written lease or not. Read up on the law; this seems like a reasonable starting point. From my cursory reading, Texas recognizes oral agreements as a valid agreement between a landlord and a tenant, so all the normal rules should apply.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:34 AM on June 9, 2010

This is what payday lending is for. There should be plenty of places in Dallas, and you should probably be able to get $80 your first time.

Payday lenders don't even bother with credit checks (as far as I know) They know if you're credit was good, you wouldn't be coming to them.

There seem to be some online payday lenders too. and Tons in the Dallas area. Just call them up and see what their lead time, rates, etc are before going in.


Also, as far as rental agreements, yeah he'll have to give you a notice to evict and you'll probably have 48 hours or something like that. But he can certainly start the eviction process today if he wants too.
posted by delmoi at 11:42 AM on June 9, 2010

Did you post this on your computer, can you hock it?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:44 AM on June 9, 2010

According to Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code and Rights in Foreclosure, you've got 3 days from the time the landlord gives you notice:

Sec. 24.005. NOTICE TO VACATE PRIOR TO FILING EVICTION SUIT. (a) If the occupant is a tenant under a written lease or oral rental agreement, the landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period at least three days' written notice to vacate the premises before the landlord files a forcible detainer suit, unless the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer notice period in a written lease or agreement. A landlord who files a forcible detainer suit on grounds that the tenant is holding over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period must also comply with the tenancy termination requirements of Section 91.001.


I'm with everyone else who suggests you contact the Tenants Union ASAP.
posted by telophase at 11:51 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

And get a receipt from your landlord once you give him the cash you've made from everyone's good advice here. He sounds like a horses' patoot.
posted by cestmoi15 at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2010

Another alternative is local churches. I know that often people will approach our church and others in the area if they are in dire straits, looking for money for bus tickets, etc. You'll at least (hopefully) find a sympathetic ear, and they may have a lawn that needs mowing, too.
posted by liquado at 11:57 AM on June 9, 2010

If for some bizarre reason you can't get a payday loan, you can't get a loan against your car, or briefly pawn your computer (?), and it's too late for day labor, and the tenants' aid organization can't help you out, $80 is definitely something a church would probably lend you. And you're smack dab in the middle of Christian country.
posted by availablelight at 11:58 AM on June 9, 2010

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure standard eviction laws do apply in this situation. In Texas, if you allow a person to stay in your building for a certain amount of time, you are required to treat the situation as if you were their landlord (written lease or not). That means you have to give them the 30 days notice before kicking them out.

If worse comes to worse, call the police department and they will back you up. You cannot be kicked out like your landlord is threatening.
posted by Sufi at 11:59 AM on June 9, 2010

Btw, as evil as payday lending is, they can come in handy if you're broke. The first time you come in you can only get a certain amount, whereas if you pay that back you can get more the next time you come in.

However, payday lending can lead to a pretty bad cycle of debt, so it might be best to avoid it.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on June 9, 2010

I'm glad this was solved. Just in case it comes up again (hopefully it won't), look into selling jeans. If they're from anywhere decent (even the Buckle store in the mall), Buffalo Exchange or other used clothing shops will frequently buy them. People always forget about clothes because they assume if it's not big name label, no one will want it.
posted by wending my way at 12:27 PM on June 9, 2010

Once your paycheck comes through, do yourself a huge favor and spend absolutely nothing on anything but the barest of essentials until you have saved up a $1000 emergency fund. No eating out, no new clothes, no entertainment, nothing until you have that emergency cash stashed away somewhere safe.
posted by brain at 12:57 PM on June 9, 2010 [21 favorites]

He can't legally kick you out without notice. Eviction for non-payment cannot be done legally in one day. And if he does it illegally, he's lawsuit fodder. Sounds like he's talking out of his ass and is trying to scare you.

(An aside: I was a landlord once. Miserable damn job. With a certain type of renter, who could only afford to pay the creditors that yelled the loudest, being "nice" meant that you never got paid. To get paid you gotta be the loudest yelling bill collector in that person's life. But you also gotta observe the law and not violate tenants' legal rights, so there's only so much "loud" you can do. So it sucks beyond belief on the other side too.)

Having been on both sides -- gather your documentation. Be able to show proof of income (and intermittent lack thereof). Be able to demonstrate demonstrate residency and past payment of rent (e.g. receipts or cancelled checks for rent). And then be able to articulate your right to the landlord.

Definitely call the tenants union. Also do you have a friend who is/knows a lawyer? If you can show him you know your rights and imply that this could go to court, waiting two days for the $80 will look pretty good to your landlord in comparison.

But, if you say two days, have the money in two days. And then demand some form of a lease.
posted by cross_impact at 11:34 AM on June 10, 2010

Oh yeah, the St. Vincent De Paul Society is set up for stuff like this.
posted by cross_impact at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2010

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