I have rented a house behind my own home to someone in the service industry who is out of a job because of COVID-19, and now he can’t pay the full rent.
I am fortunate enough to still have a job, but I am heavily in debt with student loans, my mortgage, and other bills. I work very hard, including early and late hours and weekends. I have referred my tenant to companies hiring during COVID-19, but he isn’t interested or says it pays too low.
Instead, he is hanging out with friends or his girlfriend, and always smoking weed. He tells me I should forgive or discount the rent. It should be noted that he is already getting a discount since the rent is well below market price.
Part of me doesn’t want to give him a discount since I work so hard and long hours, and he just hangs around being picky about work. Is that wrong of me? What should I do?
Your tenant’s situation reminds me of a cartoon I once saw featuring a fellow smoking marijuana and watching TV in his boxer shorts and a T-shirt in his parent’s basement. The caption went something like “Smoking weed has never done me any harm!” The next box was the exact same image, except it was 20 years later, and the caption read: “Smoking weed has never done me any harm!”
Several major cities across the U.S. have either issued temporary bans on evictions or are considering them amid the coronavirus outbreak. For millions of Americans who work for hourly wages below $15 an hour, and do not have paid sick leave or the option to work from home, the economic impact has depleted their savings and put them in a precarious position.
There are many people doing their best to find work and hang onto their homes. They deserve our full support. You may not know the actual circumstances of his income, but if he would make the same amount of money or more working, he should certainly take a job to pay his rent and bills, especially given that you took the time to help him. But he must be willing and able to help himself.
Local governments in several U.S. cities have temporarily banned evictions as the coronavirus outbreak has worsened and, depending on where you live, it may get worse before it get better. Whatever you decide, make sure the law is on your side, and that you are comfortable with your decision. Listen to your gut! That said, if the work he was offered was enough to get by, he should take it.
You’ve gone above and beyond your role as landlord and, thus far, you’ve done everything by the book, and I commend you in renting this apartment below the market rate. Step 1: Make sure he knows he’s already getting this house at below the market rate. And Step 2? If the champagne is not chilled to the right temperature at this job or rental, suggest he go next door.
You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here.
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