Talk to Your Landlord
Talk To Your Landlord
Even if you have been fortunate enough to earn something during lockdown, or to be paid out by UIF or some other source, you have no doubt seen a reduction in your income.
If you were in total lockdown, then you will be prioritizing food over rent at this point.
If you are feeling financial strain from the Covid-19 Pandemic or lockdown, then now is the time to talk to your landlord about a reduction in your home rental.
You Cannot Be Evicted
The good news is that it was declared illegal to evict someone during the lockdown (and this may now extend to the ongoing staggered reduction in lockdown levels). So, non-payment of rent is not a legal reason to remove tenants. If you are threatened with this, you have the right to call the cops for protection.
What your Landlord is Probably Doing
Your landlord, who is the bond holder, probably spoke to the bank about missing a payment or two (or three) on their bond weeks ago, to help free up cash to use for essentials. So, don’t feel super bad if you cannot pay them what you are meant to during the lockdown. They should be ok and are not going to lose the property.
Even the banks who have not received bond payments will probably not be dumb enough to try foreclose on people who don’t pay at this time. They have voluntarily offered payment holidays knowing that courts are unlikely to grant judgments against people who were forced by Government to stop earning for many weeks.
Speak To your Landlord
If you need to ask your landlord to (1) miss a payment or (2) pay less, then be open with them about the reasons.
Send them a clear and informative message in writing if possible (eg. Via email or whatsapp).
Set out how the Pandemic and Lockdown have affected your income (give them figures).
Set out how much you DO have available (if you have some). If you are able to pay SOME of the rental, then offer do so.
Be specific, if you can pay one amount this month, but are unsure about next month then say this. Make it clear that you will be in touch again in the near future, once you have a clear picture of your finances.
Be polite, not demanding.
Remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So, ask ASAP.
If They Say No
If you offer to pay 50% (for example) because this is all you have available, and they don’t accept, then pay what you can anyway. If things turn ugly later, and they try take legal action to get you out, you will be able to show a Judge that you stuck to your word and paid what you can.
There will no doubt be some more regulations and government guidance about this situation in the future. For now, pay what you reasonably can.
If They Say Yes
Send a message of thanks. Confirm the arrangement (especially if it was made via a phone call) in writing (via whatsapp or email) so that you have a record of what was agreed upon.
Find Ways to Give Back to your Landlord this Month
Can you paint a wall, sweep up the area, do some extra gardening, repair something or improve their property in some way? If so, do it and let them know.
This article first appeared int he April 2020 issue of Debtfree Magazine