Friday, July 22, 2011

What to do if you can't pay rent

Rent is one of the biggest expenses for most people, for a freelancer like me it could be from 40% to 110% of my monthly income depending on how busy I've been. If you take a look around the blog, you can see we've already cut costs to a minimum wherever possible. Rent is a fixed monthly expense. Or is it?

If you can't pay rent there are a few things you can do:
  • Make more money - HA HA ! If only it was so easy!
    • I have 11 revenue sources and work in an industry that expects everything for free
  • Go further into debt - Use a cash advance on your CC. BAD IDEA!
  • Get assistance - Your Province/State may have a similar program.
    • I just got my approval for the BC Rental Assistance Program to get $325 back each month based on a laughably low 2010 income and current rent of $880
    • You have to fax or mail a ton of documents, I think it was 60 sheets including:
      • complete tax return for each person
      • bank statements for previous month for all accounts and each person (I used screenshots from online banking)
      • Social Insurance Numbers
      • Photocopy of birth certificates
      • Notice of Rent Increase
    • Mailing this stuff was really making me nervous about the risk of identity theft.
    • It took 7 weeks to get a reply and that was the approval letter.
  • Ask to have it lowered - Each year the landlord is allowed to increase the rent by a small percent. It wouldn't hurt to negotiate to keep it the same. 
    • This was my Plan B, since: 
      • A) The apartment and utilities did not improve throughout the past year
      • B) They have not done any of the repairs I've requested other than changing lightbulbs one time
      • C) It would cost them more to find a new tenant, do all the paper work, clean & paint the apartment (which wasn't done when we moved in !?)
      • D) There's a good chance I'm the only one in the building that even gave it a second thought/would have the balls to ask
    • Basically they cash in on you being too lazy to move again. After a certain point it becomes cheaper to move. When an $800 apartment costs $950 after a few years without increasing in value, what's the point?
  • Sublet - Subletting is when a tenant leases all or part of the property to someone. If you have an extra room and don't mind sharing the space this can be a good way to save on rent. It wouldn't work for us but could work for a single guy or girl or couple with no kids but lots of space. This requires a lot of trust.
    • Finding a good room mate might require an extensive interview process.
    • Your landlord may be allowed to increase your rent based on increased occupants, if it is allowed at all. 
    • You will have to inform your landlord or property manager of the details for the room mate.

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