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In this crazy time, some are wondering if they have to pay their rent. Yes, you have to pay your rent . . . unless . . . there is a moratorium on rent payments. Moratorium? What’s that? A moratorium is a legally authorized period of delay in the payment of a debt. In other words, if a moratorium is in effect, then you don’t have to pay your rent . . . right now. Even if there is a moratorium in effect, then you will have to eventually pay the rent. You do not simply get to live where you are living rent free.

This poses a problem for those renters whose incomes have been taken away by the coronavirus. So what is a renter to do? First and foremost, don’t waste any unemployment or stimulus check that you might receive. If at all possible, pay your rent now. Because if you don’t pay your rent now, then you are going to owe it later. And if you don’t have it later, then your landlord is going to be able to rightfully evict you.

But what about moratoriums on evictions? How do those work? Again, a moratorium is a legally authorized period of delay. Eventually, the delay comes to an end, and the evictions can begin. In short, a moratorium on evictions does not mean that you give to live rent free. It just means that your landlord can’t evict you right now. Your landlord will be able to eventually evict you for not paying rent, even if you did not have the ability to make your rent payment.

In the end, it all sounds rather brutal, but it is something that we all have to live through. So, make sacrifices where you can and ask your landlord if you could possibly pay some rent now and make up the difference in the months ahead. For example, you might offer to pay 75% of your rent now and make up the difference by paying an extra $250/month (or whatever it might be) once you get back to work.

Landlords should be willing to work with their current tenants because if they don’t, then they’ve got to pay to evict them and then start all over again. Expect landlords to be reasonable, but, unfortunately, they are not required to be reasonable.

Post Author: Stuart E. Fagan

Fair housing litigator with over 25 years' experience accepting cases in California.