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Rent loans compared
What to consider when looking for an emergency loan for rent
Emergencies come up, life happens, sometimes we come up short on rent. A short-term loan may be what you need to get through an emergency or hiccup in employment. However, many of the rent loans are expensive, so weigh options carefully and look for alternatives.
When to get a rent loan
The first question to ask yourself is whether you’ll have the money you need a week after rent is due…or if you don’t anticipate being able to come up with the full rent amount at all this month. Here are some other important considerations:
- You’re faced with eviction and have no other good choices.
- You’ll have the money but are short temporarily and need a bridge. As in the case of getting a paycheck or pay from a side job.
- When your total late fees exceed what the total interest paid on the loan would be.
- You have enough money for rent but are looking for small loans to take and payoff to establish or improve your credit.
If you won’t be able to come up with enough rent this month, and you’ve exhausted all other options (doing some side work, selling something, asking a friend or family member to lend you money), you’re probably going to need a loan. There are lots of different types available — a rent loan, credit card, payday (gulp) — with varying rates and payback periods.
How to apply for rent loans
Step by step:
- Compare personal loans online to identify a good match for you.
- Fill out the online application, including your reason for the loan and personal information like your credit score range, the amount you want and your income.
- Get pre-approved: Based on this information, the lender will do a soft credit pull, which won’t affect your credit rating like a hard credit pull to determine how much to loan you and under what terms and interest rate.
- Loan completion: Once your application has been pre-approved, you will be put in touch with the lender who will need the following from you to process your loan. Have the following items ready so they can get you your money ASAP.
- Drivers license or passport
- Proof of residence (utility bills, rent agreement, etc.)
- Paystub from work
- Bank account information
- Get your funds to cover your rent.
Make sure you’re taking money from a lender with a good reputation and a solid financial foundation. Check their online reviews and the Better Business Bureau, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for complaints and scams.
Alternatives to rent loans
1. Get a roommate to share rent and monthly expenses
If you can make room for an additional person, consider getting a roommate to help cover the bills. Many people find good candidates on Craigslist or Facebook, but also consider roommate matching apps. See, How to find a good roommate.
2. Sell something or get a side gig to earn extra cash for rent
From Postmate’s food delivery to dog walking, taking a writing job on Fiverr, to driving for Lyft, the gig economy offers plenty of possibilities. If you’re already working a full-time job, this isn’t an easy option, but it might be a good temporary fix. Selling something on eBay, OfferUp, Craigslist or even a pawn shop is another option. Read How to come up with cash fast for other ideas.
3. Using a credit card to pay rent
More and more landlords are excepting online payment with credit cards for rent. If your landlord doesn’t have an online system, ask if they can take a credit card. If not, you can get a cash advance. This isn’t ideal of course, but if you have an open balance, it’s an option. Cash advances on credit cards may be less expensive than certain types of loans too.
4. Using student loans to pay rent
This is an option. Federal and private student loans can be used to pay for room and board, which includes rent payments for on and off-campus housing. However, be careful not to abuse this. It takes the average student 10 years after graduation to pay the debt and the financial burden is severe.
5. Getting a payday loan to pay rent
Payday loans are short-term loans for $500 or less but come at a high cost. They have a bad rap for high fees and difficult or trap payment terms. The maximum fee charged can vary by state but many can hit an equivalent APR of around 400%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Try to avoid payday loans if possible.
6. Asking friends and family to help you with rent
If you have this option available to you, it can be the cheapest way to cover your rent in an emergency. Asking a friend, relative, or parent isn’t ideal and can be embarrassing, but you’ll need to be respectful. Explain your situation and what you can pay, ask for only the difference and offer to pay them back with a little bit of interest (or round up). Be ready to explain what you are doing to ensure it won’t happen again.
7. Applying to a rent assistance program to avoid eviction
Several private charities, faith-based and government-run organizations specialize in helping people find affordable, safe, and sanitary housing in all 50 states. These programs can range from temporary rental assistance to voucher programs that cover all or part of your monthly rent bills on an ongoing basis. Visit our Rent Help page to find rent assistance programs in your area.
How long can you go without paying rent?
Every state has slightly different eviction laws. Check our Renters’ Rights resource to get the specifics for where you live. In general, every rent agreement has a grace period, usually 3-5 days before your landlord is allowed to legally charge a late fee. However, the landlord will start the eviction process the day rent becomes past due.
The first step in their process is to send you a quit or pay notice. If your rent isn’t paid by the deadline in the notice (usually 3-5 days), then they file with the courts. Typically a court date is set 3-4 weeks out. If your rent is paid up by then, it’s rare for a judge to allow an eviction.
If you know you’ll be a week or two late on rent, weigh the late fees and stress of the eviction process against the cost of the loan and adding additional debt to your monthly expense.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, various states have enacted relief programs for those affected by the virus. Check out the Roost COVID-19 renters’ rights page for more detailed information on the rules in your state.