With rent, mortgage payments due on the 1st, experts offer recommendations for those who can't pay

Rent and mortgage payments are due Wednesday for many across the state, but as more and more people lose their jobs and file for unemployment, coming up with that cash right now may not be possible.

Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order preventing people from being evicted, so if you are not able to pay your rent tomorrow, don’t worry about it, as your landlord cannot kick you out.

However, you will eventually have to come up with the money over the next few months and that’s where some local programs can step in and help you out.

“Pay if you can,” said Lisa Hollingsworth, a litigation support counsel for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. “And if you can’t, seek help through an agency here that can talk you through what relief they are offering to people.”

Hollingsworth says whether it’s your rent, student loans or credit cards, try to at least pay a little bit. Then, try and negotiate some sort of plan with the lender.

Renters will be given a little bit of grace Wednesday with Walz’s order banning evictions, but that rent is still technically due.

“One of the things we are telling tenants with rent due tomorrow and they know they can’t pay is to talk with their landlord,” said Michael Vraa, the managing attorney for Homeline MN. “Open up the line of communication.”

Also at issue is people trying to move into a new apartment. Typically, people find new places to live in the spring when their lease is up, but if landlords can’t ask you to leave because of these special circumstances, that could create a problem.

County programs are also available to help people out. In Hennepin County, there is a one-time emergency handout for renters trying to stay in their homes. Help is also available for SNAP and WIC programs.  

“The Snap program can help with food, healthcare and there are cash programs,” said Kathryn Heffernan, the senior department administrator for Hennepin County Health and Human Services. “There is eligibility requirements and there are processes to apply, but we’ve tried to streamline them, obviously dealing with this emergency.”

Another issue is landlords wanting to show off their units to prospective renters. If you don’t feel comfortable allowing strangers into your home because of COVID-19, offer to take really detailed pictures of your apartment and send them over to your landlord.