While thousands of Wisconsin residents still await unemployment benefits, another month has come and gone and with it, rent is due again.
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While the pandemic has put financial strain on many, the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is offering tips for those who can't pay rent and landlords who are unable to collect rent:
- Understand local provisions for unpaid rent: Check with your local government to find out what provisions are in place on evictions during the pandemic.
- Review the terms of the lease: The details of what should happen when a tenant fails to pay rent are all outlined in the lease agreement, so now is the time to review the terms of the lease. Each party’s options and legal obligations depend largely on what is written in this legal agreement. The lease may offer emergency provisions, suspending rent obligations during times of crisis or forced shut down. Such provisions are rare, but it’s worth reviewing. If your lease is unclear, consult with a lawyer to decipher it and discuss strategies.
- Keep the lines of communication open: Open communication is key, especially during an unusual situation such as a pandemic. If you are a small business owner struggling to cover the rent, call your landlord to discuss the situation. For many landlords, working out an agreement is mutually beneficial, if it means the tenant’s business will survive when state-mandated stay-at-home orders are lifted. Some landlords may even be willing to suspend a payment, defer rent, or lower monthly payments for a specified period of time. If you are a landlord who has yet to receive payments from your tenants, it’s wise to do the same. Get in touch and discuss the situation openly. Good tenants who are reliable will usually be willing to work out an arrangement to pay owed funds as soon as they get back to work or are able to.
- Consider all options: If you are a small business owner, take some time to evaluate your finances to find a solution to your rent dilemma. After an honest evaluation, you may come up with an unexpected solution. If you're a landlord and circumstances still warrant evicting a tenant, consider this option, but keep in mind that it will likely take longer to go through the legal process than it did before coronavirus hit.
- Look for outside assistance: Some cities are now offering rent vouchers and emergency funds for renters in need. Find out if there are organizations in your area offering this kind of assistance for small business owners. If you are a landlord, you can do the same research in behalf of your renters. After all, if they get help, you’ll get rent. In addition, landlords having trouble paying their own mortgage can get in touch with their lender to find out if they are offering any assistance to borrowers who have been affected by COVID-19.
Learn more about local resources here.