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Posted on: May 21, 2020

What Should I Do If I Cannot Pay Rent?

Housing-Puzzle

What should I do if I cannot pay rent?

Even though evictions are suspended, rent is still due. Call Home Line tenant hotline or SMRLS for advice about your specific situation.  

Homeline.org, 866-866-3546 or SMRLS.org, 888-575-2954. Here is Home Line’s general advice:

If you can, pay your rent. If you can only pay a portion of your rent, you should contact your landlord to discuss how much you can pay and when you can pay it. If you can secure a ’partial payment’ agreement, put it in writing. Include these key details: when payments will be made, how much the payments will be, and how much will be owed after each payment, the date of the agreement.

If paying rent is an extreme burden for you and/or you are unable to pay, consider contacting your landlord in writing to explain why and request a payment plan. An example of a letter is available here. That form letter asks for a delay or reduction in rent, a stop to rent increases and late fees, a 6- month period for repayment of rent, and the ability to break your lease if necessary. Home Line suggests you add to your letter specific information about why you will have difficulty paying rent. Keep any papers you have about why you are unable to pay rent–for example, if you got a letter or an email about losing your job or getting fewer hours.

If you need help paying your rent, there are a number of resources you might be able to access:

  • If your work hours have been reduced or eliminated, you can apply for unemployment insurance online in English, Spanish, Somali, or Hmong: www.uimn.org. Phone lines are reserved for people who don’t have internet access or who speak other languages.
  • Economic support from Minnesota Prairie County Alliance – Dodge (507) 923-2900, Steele (507) 431-5600, or Waseca (507) 837-6600.
    • Cash Assistance
    • Emergency Assistance
    • Child Care Assistance
    • Food Assistance
    • Health Care Assistance
  • One-time Family (and single adult) Homeless Assistance Program
    • Semcac – Dodge (507) 634-4350, Steele (507) 431-5651
    • Minnesota Valley Action Council - Waseca (507) 835-8240
  • Steele County residents – Transitional Housing of Steele County (507) 446-9315
  • Salvation Army: Dodge County- (651)-303-3508, Steele County – (507) 455-1444, Waseca (507) 345-7840.
  • You can also try calling 2-1-1 to find out about other financial assistance programs.

Here is a FAQ from the National Low Income Housing Coalition about eligibility for assistance based on immigration status.

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