A tenant who gets a government check says he cannot pay rent due to government shutdown is this week’s question for veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi.

Dear Landlord Hank:

Our tenant tells us he cannot pay January rent due to the government shutdown. We have verified his employment and he is telling the truth. What should we do?

– Darlene

Dear Landlady Darlene,

This is a tough question with many things to consider.

First to consider are your needs and abilities as a landlord.

Are you able to absorb this loss of income and not jeopardize yourself and your rental business?

If you are not able to comfortably handle this loss of income, then your tenant will have to move.

People lose jobs through no fault of their own all the time, but we are a business and we must continue to pay our commitments.

Did he say he can’t pay January rent NOW, when expected, or not at all?

We all have bills to pay.

Is this a long term tenant? Is he a good tenant?

If you are willing to wait for a specified period of time for your rent, or for your rent to be paid again, is he going to be able to keep the lights on and food on the table?

If you can work with this tenant, and he has been a good tenant, I would let him know that you could postpone his rent due date for whatever time you feel comfortable (maybe one or two weeks), but you aren’t able to pay his bills.

I’d get it in writing too that if the tenant is not able to begin paying rent at the end of the grace period, and make arrangements to pay back rent, then he will vacate voluntarily and immediately.

I don’t expect this shutdown to last very long, but we could be surprised. Also, I believe the Senate has passed a law saying furloughed employees will be paid back pay, but only time will tell. You must protect yourself and your investment first.


Hank Rossi

Other recent Dear Landlord Hank posts you may have missed:

If A Good Tenant Loses A Job How Long Before You Evict Them?

How Do You Raise Rent For A Long-Time Tenant?

 How Do You Know When To Change Property Managers?

 Where Do You Draw The Line On Normal Wear And Tear?

Dear Landlord Hank: Do You Conduct Rental Inspections? How Often?

Dear Landlord Hank: How Do I Motivate My Tenants To Conserve Water?

Is An Old Drug Conviction A Big Deal?

Dear Landlord Hank: Should I Give A Tenant More Time To Pay?

Dear Landlord Hank: Tenant’s Sewer Line Clogged With Tree Roots

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Tenant cannot pay rent

Landlord Hank at work on one of his properties