Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I can't pay the rent?
If you have any income at all, the rent should always be the first thing you pay . It is more important than the car or the lights or food. But supposing someone steals your money and you truly can't pay anything, the first step is to talk to your landlord or manager. If you have been a good tenant and always paid your rent on time before, they will probably work out a payment schedule for that month's rent. But it's very important that you communicate with them along the way to getting caught up. If you do make an agreement for a payment plan, put it in writing yourself and present it to your landlord or use their form. If the landlord can't help you, then try a charitable agency such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way, your county's department of human (social) services, or church groups i.e. Catholic charities, Mennonites, any medium to large church in your community . They all usually have a program for housing assistance and can help you with a no interest loan or one time grant. Be sure to have proof of why this problem came about to show them (like a police report or termination slip from your job). If all of these avenues fail, then you should look at chapter 13 of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook.

How do I handle problem neighbors?
Keep a log of the problems. Sometimes people are afraid to report neighbor problems to their landlord for fear the neighbor will retaliate. The problem may be noise, parking in your space, or children running amuck. If you have maintained a friendly relationship with your neighbors (and you should ), try talking to them nicely first. If that does not work, drop them a friendly note, such as ( Dear Neighbor Fred. I am afraid I have to ask you to turn down the bass on your stereo. It is making my glasses in the cupboards walk off the shelves. Thank you. Signed Neighbor Barb .) If the word and note don't solve the problem, then you must get your landlord involved. Do this in writing. Your note to your landlord must give the exact dates and times of the problem. If it is noise and you have called the police give that information too. Remember, notes should be short and sweet (use a list if you can). If you have more than 3 short sentences, you've said too much. See the suggested letter format on page 74 of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook.

I am being evicted and want to fight it. What should I do?
Read Chapter 13 of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook and then schedule a consultation with a tenant lawyer in your city.

There are no tenant lawyers in my city. What should I do?
Look for one in your state and consult with them by phone. You can agree to mail the consult fee and information and then do all the consultation by phone. If you can't find a lawyer, there should be a housing authority, court clerk, or renter's rights place in phone book that can give you the law in your state or help you find them. Don't' forget the library or near by law school, they can help too. When you are thinking lawyers should talk with you for free, remember, you get what you pay for.

I had a roommate who just moved out without paying her rent. What should I do?
Tell your landlord what happened. See what they recommend. Look for a new roommate as soon as possible and sue the old one. See page 60, 103, 107 of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook.

My rent is higher than my neighbor. Our apartments are the same. Is this fair?
No, but no one promised you fair. Each renter has his or her own lease. And that lease can be anything you agree to with your landlord. The fact that your neighbor got a better deal does not affect your lease. But when your lease expires, try to negotiate a better deal too. See page 106 of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook.

The Landlord promised to make repairs, but has not made them. What do I do?
See Chapter 9 and pages 90 and 99 of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook. Repair problems and solutions are discussed in great depth.

My landlord has not made the repairs that’s were promised before I moved in. What should I do?
Look to your lease agreement. Are the repairs to be made written in the lease? Is there a time limit for them to be done? If the answer is "yes" to both of these questions, you may have a good case for suing your landlord for defaulting on his promises in the lease. This would be done in small claims court. If the answer is "no", there may be no quick and easy way to handle this. The best way to handle this type of problem is before its began. Have repairs in writing and then inspect the property well before move-in to make sure they have been done. If they have not been done. Don't move in! Negotiate a lower rent or something else. Beware, this tells you that the landlord may not be reputable and honest. I also recommend you not lease with someone who would show you an apartment in need of repairs. Its like a first date with someone who shows up dirty, smelly, and missing teeth. Do you really want to marry them? It is true what they say about "first impressions"....that is the best you will see from this person. See chapter nine of Abernethy's Ultimate Tenant Handbook.