Tenants: Is There Any Good Reason to be Late on Rent?
All good tenants know that it’s essential to pay rent on time. It promotes a good relationship with your landlord and shows you’re a reliable tenant. But promptly paying your rent is sometimes easier said than done.
In June 2022 alone, 15% of Americans were behind on their rent payments. This is partly because rents are going up by at least $250/mo for 6.7 million households. It’s also because the economy’s still recovering from the pandemic. In fact, 5.9 million people are still unemployed, although it’s already a significant improvement from June 2020.
So, are there legitimate reasons to be late on rent?
The short answer is kind of, but let’s talk about the circumstances.
What Are Acceptable Reasons to be Late on Rent?
First, let’s be frank. “I forgot” is not a good excuse, but there are situations in which late payments may be inevitable and, therefore, acceptable. If you’re struggling to pay your rent, here are 5 appropriate reasons to delay payment on your lease.
#1 – Home Repairs
One of the most common reasons to not pay rent is if you have an agreement with your landlord because you’re deducting home repair costs from it. Additionally, in Michigan, the tenants are entitled to a rental property that meets the basic structural, health, and safety standards. This means you have the right to “Repair and Deduct” if the unit is unfit to live in.
Of course, you can’t just fix something and demand compensation. You must provide adequate notice first and only certain types of repairs qualify, like a leaky roof or a broken heater. If the landlord fails to address the issue, then you can withhold rent or deduct the costs.
But always be sure to read up on your local laws before making that kind of decision.
#2 – Technical Issues
Sometimes we want to pay, but external circumstances prevent us from doing so. Banks can have downtime, especially when it comes to online payments and transfers. Recently, an outage in Canada even shut down Interac payment for 2 whole days across the country.
And there are plenty of other tech issues that can happen. Maybe your phone or laptop is stolen, or your internet connection is malfunctioning. You may even have to temporarily lock your account due to security issues.
If that’s the case, shoot your landlord a message to inform them you’ve encountered technical difficulties and will send the rent payment as soon as you’ve sorted things out.
#3 – Loss of Income Due to Death
Another reason could be if someone in your home passes away, leaving the rest of the household with a much higher rent than expected. If one of the parties on the lease dies, it’s not uncommon for you to be unable to afford the rent.
When this occurs, be sure to communicate with your landlord about the situation. At that point, you can work together to create a Move Out plan. Alternatively, if you’re in a shared house, you can try to find a new tenant to take over their portion of the rent.
#4 – Difficult Personal Circumstances
Perhaps you or your family have recently become ill or injured, and you need to pay hospital bills. Or maybe you’re going through a divorce or similarly difficult legal proceedings. Complicated personal situations can affect us financially, making us unable to pay for necessities—and that includes rent.
The loss of a loved one is especially difficult to bear and comes with emotional and monetary costs. In fact, the average funeral cost between
If you’re going through some hardship and it’s affecting your ability to pay for your lease, speak to your landlord. Outline the circumstances so they have full context on why you’ll need to delay payments. You don’t need to give full details, but they should have all the relevant information to understand the situation.
#5 – Job Changes
Your job may have made changes to your payout dates. Say you used to be paid on the 1st and the 15th, but now they’re making it the 5th and the 20th. Speak with your landlord and inform them that you’ll be late on this month’s payment and you may need to adjust the date that your rent is due.
Alternatively, if you’ve lost your job, you may need to defer rent payments until you can regain employment. If you’ve got enough savings, then you can get by for a month or two. But for those with tighter financial circumstances, you’ll have to talk to your landlord about your situation.
Always Inform Your Landlord If You’ll be Late on the Rent
If you believe you may need to pay your rent late, whether this month or sometime in the near future, it’s important to inform your landlord.
The earlier you inform your landlord, the better. This way, your landlord can adjust for a delayed payment—they may need that money for repairs or maintenance, or to make payments of their own. You’ll also be offering them some courtesy and honesty, which your landlord will appreciate.
Also, try to provide proof supporting your reason your rent will be late. Unfortunately, landlords hear many excuses for late rent payments, so they are understandably usually skeptical. Sharing proof of your issue may encourage them to give you time and work out a solution with you. Otherwise, you force them to assume the worst and proceed accordingly!
Show your landlord you’re actually serious about catching up on your rent, by sharing how you will pay your past-due rent as soon as possible. Your plan should have specific payment amounts and dates, with supporting documentation. Otherwise, you’re expecting your landlord to just trust you—which many won’t do after being burned too many times in the past.
Proactively sharing your plan will reassure your landlord and encourage them to be flexible about your late payment. Show them that you’re taking steps to ensure you’re on time for the next month, or that you’ll catch up as soon as you’re able. Landlords much prefer retaining current tenants since eviction can be costly.
As long as this is just a one-off, they should afford you some flexibility.
Handling Late Rent Payments
Ideally, you should never be behind on rent, but life has shown time and again that circumstances are never ideal. Difficulties arise and we need to deal with curve balls. Therefore, there are some situations where late rent payments can be accepted.
As always, the most crucial thing is to communicate with your landlord and take the steps to catch up.
Here at Logical Property Management, we have several convenient payment options for rent payments and payment plans. Contact us today so we can help you find your perfect rental with a landlord you can trust.