I can't pay rent! What should I do?
May 31, 2007 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Rent's due tomorrow, and I don't have the money yet. What should I do?

So, I just moved into a new place - I had to pay some overlapping rent, so I'm strapped for cash at the moment. In fact, I was relying on a coming paycheck in order to pay this month's rent. This check was mailed to me from California on Friday, May 25. I live in Santa Fe, NM, and the check has still yet to arrive, though by all accounts it should have been here by now. Rent is due tomorrow, and I don't know what to do. There's also a possibility that my check did in fact arrive, but that my ex-roommate stole it. Unlikely, but possible. What should I do? I'm $450 short and have no idea how to come up with that much money by this time tomorrow. Any ideas?
posted by clcapps to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pay a couple of days late? Most landlords are OK with a day or 2.
posted by tristeza at 3:57 PM on May 31, 2007

Check your lease. On my last lease, I didn't have penalties for late payment until day 7.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:00 PM on May 31, 2007

If you go to one of those cash advance places, make sure you can pay off the debt IMMEDIATELY.
posted by craniac at 4:01 PM on May 31, 2007

Check your lease...mine stipulates that rent must be received by 3 days after the due date, or a penalty will be tacked on.
posted by Liosliath at 4:03 PM on May 31, 2007

Being honest with the landlord, letting them know and giving them a date by which it will be paid is almost certainly fine.

But as an alternative, do you have $450 worth of possessions you could sell at a Cash Converters type place?

It's also worth noting that here in the UK these kinds of shops - a bit like pawn shops - not only buy goods but also offer very short term loans (with hideous interest rates), set up same day and paid in cash immediately, of small amounts such as $500.
posted by skylar at 4:03 PM on May 31, 2007

Pimp yourself out?

No, on a more serious note, I would check your lease. If you have seven days, sweet. If not, check what the penalty is. Next, come clean with your landlord. I feel it is much better to warm about a late payment than just not pay on time, you know? And, if there's a penalty, don't try to weasel out of it. You just moved in, and you want to start off on a good food. Admit your mistake, pay the penalty, promise it won't happen again (and, it shouldn't, right?), and go on with your life.
posted by duckierose at 4:05 PM on May 31, 2007

memorial day might have slowed down the mail. tell your landlord, and if necessary call your employer and ask them to reissue your check and see if they can wire it to you.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:06 PM on May 31, 2007

Have a frank discussion of your options with your landlord. They may be comfortable with a late payment, maybe with a small late penalty, maybe not. That's your first course of action. Your next course of action is making good on whatever agreement you and your landlord arrive at.
posted by lekvar at 4:14 PM on May 31, 2007

I knew I was going to be cash short on rent day once, so a few days before it was due I talked to my landlord about the situation. We decided I would give him 2 checks, one for what he could cash right then and there, and another for the difference that I was short and he said he would wait until I gave the all clear to cash the second one. Good wishes.
posted by goml at 4:15 PM on May 31, 2007

All my incoming checks were delayed by Memorial Day...it's like the post office took off three days instead of one.
posted by zenpop at 4:16 PM on May 31, 2007

Contact the people sending you the check asking them if they can reissue it minus the amount it would take to overnight it to you (if they won't wire the money.)

You should certainly talk with the landlord. My state's least contracts have a specific clause for "failing to pay first month's rent." You don't want to hope for the best on this one.
posted by Cyrano at 4:34 PM on May 31, 2007

Contact your landlord ASAP. Offer to pay what you can now and the rest as soon as you get the remainder. Most landlords are fine with granting a bit of leeway as long as you are giving early notice, making some payments, and keeping him/her aware of your situation. And don't let it happen again the next month or your landlord will think you're taking advantage of his/her leniency.

Regarding the check situation, the best is if you can get direct deposit. You say you suspect your ex-roommate stole it. If it's with an old mail key, you should also ask your landlord if they can change the mailbox lock. It could be Memorial Day lag but you don't want to take a chance that your next month's paycheck could also go missing.
posted by junesix at 4:44 PM on May 31, 2007

Don't know if it's available where you live, but when it happened to me I would just get a small loan from my bank (automatic, via Internet-banking, nobody needs to know about it), pay in cash and as soon as I got the check, pay off the bank immediately. This way you don't look bad to either your landlord or the bank!
posted by dcrocha at 4:52 PM on May 31, 2007

Depends how you pay. I've always paid my rent by bank transfer into the landlord's account, which means I can just send it a day or two late if need be - chances are they won't even notice. The rich bastards.
posted by reklaw at 4:53 PM on May 31, 2007

I'd ask my landlord for leeway, but some other suggestions --

* ask your job for an advance on your next paycheck? Or if you're in college, you might have access to small emergency loans.
* use one of those credit card "make out this check to yourself for however much cash you want!" things you get in junk mail?
posted by salvia at 6:08 PM on May 31, 2007

There's also a possibility that my check did in fact arrive, but that my ex-roommate stole it.

Yikes. You need to find out if that is what happened. Could you call your former employer to see if the check has been cashed?
posted by LarryC at 11:25 PM on May 31, 2007

Dude, NEVER go to one of those dedicated paycheck loan joints! This is what Banks are for. If you have anything approaching decent credit,and a checking or savings account, ask for a short-term signature loan. They're relatively cheap and can save you badwill with your new Landlord.

And if you can, use a Credit Union instead of a bank.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:49 AM on June 1, 2007

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