What to do if you can't pay rent or mortgage
Many people may need short-term help with their rent or mortgage. Get insights on how to navigate this situation.
Housing is most Americans' largest monthly expense, accounting for about 32% of monthly costs. An unexpected job loss or surprise bills, coupled with little or no savings, could leave many people unable to pay their rent or mortgage. If you or someone you love is faced with this difficult situation, there are steps to take to get help.
Ask for help with rent
Call your landlord before you miss a payment to explain your situation and discuss options. For renters, landlords may waive late fees, negotiate payment plans or even forgive payments to help you avoid being evicted.
Ask for mortgage help
The same goes for a mortgage loan: Always contact your bank or lender before you miss a payment. Lenders may be able to temporarily or permanently lower your payment through refinancing, or provide information about government programs to help pay mortgages or forbearance. Be sure to check your homeowner's insurance policy to see that your home remains fully insured during any period like this.
If you don't have a budget, create one. Comb over it to find ways to cut spending, and ask credit card or loan issuers about hardship programs to reduce your payments. If you need help in this process, work with a government-approved credit counseling service.
Consider government programs
There are many government programs to help pay mortgages or assist renters in distress. If your situation is related to a major disaster or crisis, specific assistance programs may be available. Or, check the Department of Housing and Urban Development's rental help resources to learn about grants or other assistance from area charities, religious institutions or government agencies.
Look into personal resources
If you're in a position to borrow from family (and you believe your situation to be temporary), consider a short-term family "loan."Make sure to have a detailed plan that both parties agree on to pay the money back. If you have a 401k, taking an early withdrawal is an option, but considering you will likely incur a penalty, it should be taken as a last resort.