The moment you know that you will have trouble to pay your rent, you should go and talk to your landlord. The longer you’ll wait, the more the landlord will be thinking that you’re not willing to come up with the back rent. And then, your landlord could begin the eviction process.

Another aspect is that, in case you come to an agreement with your landlord before he sets out on the eviction path, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money, as there’s quite some legal cost associated with eviction procedures. In case you’ll pay the back rent after he already started the eviction process, the landlord may very well demand that you also pay for those legal costs.

What Should You Tell Your Landlord

When talking with the landlord, try to explain your situation as clearly as possible. Don’t waste much of his time by describing all your troubles, because you just want to inform him that the problems are of a temporary nature. Bear in mind that for your landlord, you are merely a customer, and not a friend.

On top of coming up with a decent repayment plan, you also can indicate that you have taken steps to avoid a similar situation in the future. One more way to fulfill  your back payment obligations is to see if the landlord has any work to be done on this or another property. Lawns may require some attention or the hallways may want some fresh paint. In case your landlord will agree, you could spend weekend or evening hours performing these tasks, thus decreasing the amount of owed back rent.

It will take some real courage to address this sort of problems, but generally will landlords be more likely to help if you talk to them first. In case your landlord needs to corner you on your back rent, there’s little chance for working out a suitable plan.

Back Rent Focus Only

When you discus back payments with the landlord, you should stay focused just on that. Bear in mind that you’re asking your landlord for letting you continue to live in the same place, although you haven’t paid as agreed in the lease. This is not the time to argue about anything else with your landlord.

Even if you feel, for example, that the landlord has been negligent in keeping up the property, make sure you won’t address the issue until you have decently paid all the back rent. There are people who have fought eviction successfully due to the fact that the landlord had let the property deteriorate so far that it had become unhealthy or unsafe, but bear in mind that in such cases, you usually will be required to prove that you have brought the issues to your landlord’s attention a long time before you started to fall behind in the due rent.

How to Work with the Landlord

Here are a few tips on how to best negotiate with the landlord:

Inform your landlord that there may be a problem well before you begin to fall behind in paying the rent.

Describe the amount you owe, how much you are able to pay back, and how fast that can be done.

Make a realistic repayment plan and put that in writing, and it is crucial that you will honor the deal. If not, your landlord is likely to lose any faith in you. When that happens, he could easily take more drastic steps against you, for example eviction.

When your landlord agrees to your repayment plan, you should put that in writing. Ensure that the document states that when you stick to the plan, your landlord has no option for eviction. The agreement must be signed and dated by both your landlord and you.

You can always ask your landlord if there’s any work on the property that you can do to help you pay for the back rent.

When you feel the landlord has failed in providing a healthy and safe home, you can ask about which steps need to be taken next when you schedule an appointment with your local Community Action Agency.

Please bear in mind that when you discuss your back rent with the landlord, you just focus on that specific problem and that you shouldn’t complicate things by addressing any other issue at that time.