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Talk it Out: Negotiate Your Lease

On Behalf of | May 3, 2020 | Contracts

So the governor has given you a break.  Your landlord cannot evict for until the end of May.  But rent is still due.  So what do you do?  Negotiate.

While tenants may be dancing in the streets about a moratorium on evictions, the moratorium is only for a few months, and nothing in the executive order means that the rent is forgiven.  Yes, that’s right.  The rent is still due!

But I don’t have any money! What am I going to do?!  In any relationship, including landlord tenant, communication is key.  Especially in the landlord tenant relationship communication almost always necessitates negotiation.  Both parties have something the other’s want.  The landlord wants the tenant’s money.  The tenant wants to stay and use the property.  In a normal state, this is equally balanced with the monthly payment of rent under penalty of eviction.  However, with the moratorium, the balance has been tilted, if only temporarily, in favor of the tenant.

Tenants should beware that the balance will quickly slam the opposite direction when the moratorium lifts, and if you have not paid your rent during that time, you could already be up to 60-90 days behind on your rent.  You have put your landlord in a financial bind, as most landlords utilize tenant payments to service mortgages on the property.  Now, he maybe 60-90 days behind on payments to the bank.  That creates stress all around.

Instead, talk to your landlord.  Tell them what you can do, even if it is partial payments.  Discuss a repayment program, maybe larger payments of rent for three months (or longer) to catch up or a balloon payment at the end of the year when the economy has had a chance to recover.  Maybe negotiating payments related to economic stimulus packages.  Landlords are people too, and most want to work things out with their tenants, but that desire can quickly go away with no communication and no money.

If you find that your business is not coming back, or that your job is not coming back, and require moving out.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Negotiate again with your landlord.  He can’t kick you out, but he can hurt your rental record and your credit.  Instead, negotiate an exit strategy that works for both of you.  Maybe partial payments in exchange for time to move.  Something is better than nothing, and it saves the landlord the expense of later evicting you (and suing you for more money).

The COVID crisis has done wonders to bring differing communities together.  Now its time for landlords and tenants to talk it out.

By: Andrew Stilwell, Esq., Attorney at Contreras Law Firm

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