Q: What should I do if I can't pay my mortgage or rent because of coronavirus?
A: The lockdown and social distancing in response to the coronavirus pandemic have put many people into a precarious financial position as businesses have closed, and people are sheltering at home. I began writing this column at the height of the mortgage meltdown and have not had to address so many questions about not being able to pay their rent or mortgage.
I had hoped that many more years would have passed before I would have to give this advice again.
If you find yourself not able to pay your rent or mortgage, the most important thing you must do is communicate. Do not bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem will go away or that your landlord or lender will somehow just know your situation. Pick up the phone and call. Explain your situation. Tell them of your reduced hours, job loss, or having to care for a sick loved one. Ask to be able to pay less or skip a payment or two.
There may be some pushback, but be polite and stand firm. Most lenders have programs in place to help with this, and landlords are people too. If they do not work with you, most areas have temporarily suspended evictions and foreclosures in response to the crisis, so the consequences will not be immediate.
It is important to remember that this crisis will end, and you will have to catch up on the missed payments. You should make the payment now if you have the money. Doing so will avoid potential penalties and having to deal with this later when you are back to work and busy again.
As with any legal dealing, make sure that you take careful notes of all communication, including the date, whom you spoke to, and what was said. If you eventually have to hire a lawyer to get back on track, this information will prove invaluable.
About The Writer
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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