There are times when your spending can get away from you, and it can make for a stressful time when all your bills start piling up at the beginning or end of the month. Many people find themselves in a bit of a bind when their landlords are expecting rent, so what are you supposed to do if you don’t have the proper funds sitting in your account on collection day?

Should you try to ignore the problem and hope your landlord won’t notice you’re a day or two late? Should you send a check you know is going to bounce or “forget” to sign it because you know it’ll cause a delay? Probably not. There will likely be consequences if you’re caught (like late fees), and there are other ways you can solve this problem.

In this post, we’ll discuss four things you should do when you know your rent is going to be late.

1. Tell Your Landlord Your Rent Will Be Late

Barring extenuating circumstances, like if your bank account is hacked and drained or other unforeseen financial emergencies, you should know within a couple days of your rent due date whether or not you’ll have enough money to cover it. The moment you know you won’t be able to pay on time, inform your landlord.

Any notice you can provide your landlord with will work in your favor because it demonstrates your willingness to be transparent and to take responsibility for the late payment. The worst thing you can do is try to sneak a late rent payment past your landlord because they will likely notice you’re late, and you will have shown them that they can’t trust you.

Explain your situation to them and do it in an honest and concise way. They’ve probably heard every excuse in the book, so just take responsibility rather than giving them a sob story.

2. Discuss the Possibility of Partial or Delayed Payments with Your Landlord

Informing your landlord that you’ll be late on your next rent payment opens up the opportunity to negotiate a payment plan.

Some landlords are willing to accept partial payments, usually where you pay part of the total rent amount on the day it’s normally due and then the rest when you get your next paycheck.

Other landlords are willing to accept a late rent payment if they’ve been given some notice and you pay it within one or two days of the due date.

Keep in mind that your landlord can still charge you a late fee for late rent—odds are there’s a clause in your Residential Lease that explains the late rent procedure and states the amount of the fee. However, being candid with your landlord might increase the chance that they’ll waive the late fee altogether.

Just remember, if you come to alternative arrangements with your landlord, you should get it in writing just in case. It’ll help prevent the possibility of any disputes with your landlord later.

3. Consider Re-evaluating Your Budget

It doesn’t hurt to take a look at your budgeting efforts, especially if not paying rent on time is becoming a common occurrence for you. You might need to re-evaluate what your wants, needs, and wishes are and how they play out in your monthly budget.

You don’t want to make a habit out of being behind on rent because your landlord has every right to serve you an Eviction Notice if you’re consistently paying late.

4. Ask for Help with Your Finances if You Need it

Most people will experience some kind of financial turmoil at least once in their lives. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Many people turn to payday loans when they’re in a financial jam, but these kinds of loans can often start a revolving cycle of taking out more loans to pay off the original loan.

Before resorting to payday loans, consider some of these alternatives:

  • You can ask friends or family for a loan (which you can secure with a Promissory Note to put them at ease).
  • If federal student loans are causing your financial trouble, you can always apply for a deferment plan that puts a hold on your monthly payments for a limited time.
  • If credit card debt is your issue, you can ask your credit card company about their hardship programs to see about lowering your monthly payment.
  • You can apply for a Modest Needs grant which can get you up to $1000 one time to help make ends meet provided you are currently employed.
  • Organizations like 211.org can connect you with local charities to help you out with rent assistance.

Finding a Payment Solution

If you’re unlucky enough to have a drained bank account come rent time, don’t be discouraged because you can’t find a way to pay. Consider using the tactics discussed in this post to help with your problem.

Don’t try to be sneaky with your landlord. It’s likely they’re keeping track of which tenants haven’t paid on time and who’s making a habit out of it. Communicate openly and honestly with them about your situation, discuss alternative payment plans if possible, re-evaluate your budget, and ask for help if you need it.

Posted by Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight is a writer in Edmonton, Alberta. His nonfiction has appeared in Spinal Columns, The Bolo Tie Collective Anthology: Volume I, and filling Station. When he's not writing, he's sleeping.