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Why I Decided not to Pay My Rent

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It didn’t start off this way. I had every intention of paying my rent on time for my last month in my apartment. In fact, I even went in a week early and handed them a post-dated check since we would be out of town when it was due.
But then I woke up this morning beyond stressed about this month. It’s the first month I don’t have food stamps since I now make too much money. Ha, that’s a joke! And then I have all my regular bills, debt payments and additional moving expenses. Oh, and I won’t receive any of my ‘payments’ until the end of the month. So literally after paying rent a couple of small bills due the first week of the month, I would be BROKE for the next few weeks, and have to move.
I just couldn’t do it. I just can’t stomach it. So this morning, I woke up and put a stop payment on my rent check. And immediately the stress lifted, well, at least a tiny bit.
Now I’m not trying to dodge paying my rent at all, I will pay it and the ginormous amount of fees they will tack on, but I will do it in bits and pieces as I get back on my feet.
That’s where I am today, right now. Breathing again.


35 Comments

  • Reply Heather |

    Thank you for your honesty. I probably would have done the same thing, or just not given them a check. In fact, I have in the past done a similar act.

    Good luck with everything, the move and job search. You got this!!!

  • Reply Jenna |

    There is maybe something different in your agreement – but shouldn’t this month’s rent be covered in your “first & last” deposit. This is your “last month” and are moving out as indicated in one of your previous posts you provided appropriate notice. You’d have already paid this month’s rent upon moving in.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Jenna,
      I am hoping they will apply my deposit toward the outstanding balance when we move out next week, but it was not a full month so I will still owe them some money plus fees for being late, etc. I anticipated this when I made the decision.

  • Reply Terry |

    No, that’s not how that works…..first and last months rent is more of a deposit to guard against excessive damage to the apartment.
    Hopefully you notified your apartment manager of your decision and made plans for a payment plan or whatever you need to do to catch back up.

  • Reply Pam E-P |

    Did you let your management company know about the stop payment? They will incur fees when they try to deposit the check, which I assume they will then pass on to you.

  • Reply SAK |

    It is really best if you go tell them what is happening and work something out – much cheaper for them to work out an arrangement directly then go through lots of legal steps for nonpayment etc

  • Reply Constance |

    Wow, what a dilemma. Rent or food. Actually, I agree with everyone else. Contact the mgmt company and tell them you stopped payment. Hopefully they won’t have deposited your check yet and so you can avoid some of the fees. Maybe all if indeed you can use your deposit as the last month. Good luck to you Hope. You’re overdue.

  • Reply Jay |

    Its better to try to work with them. At some point you are going to need to rent or buy elsewhere, and its going to be even more difficult if they report this.

    Totally understand not having the money though. Difficult situation.

  • Reply Eliza |

    It’s definitely better to try to work with them. I’m sympathetic to your issue – shelter versus food is not a fun decision to have to make. (Side note: have you looked into a food pantry/food bank? They may be able to help even if you have lost SNAP).

    But, the way you went about doing this is not OK. You need to tell your management company ASAP and work out a plan with them. Giving them a check for money you owe, changing your mind and then stopping payment on the check is (imho) unethical and depending on your state and local laws may have criminal as well civil repercussions.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Eh, I’m going to give Hope a pass on this. She’s been through so much that I completely understand the no confrontation route. Plus, there is a theory that this buys her some time for payments to come in later this month at which point she may be able to pay the management company in full.

      • Reply Angie |

        I respectfully disagree. Would you have the same advice if Hope was renting from an individual versus an apartment complex?

        Its always better to talk about it since they then may allow some flexibility or provisions. At least they won’t have to tack on extra return check fees on top of all the late payment fees. Also, I know my lease has a clause in it where if you have a returned check you then have to provide all further paychecks via secured funds (i.e. PITA and can then lead to more late days if you are waiting for funds to clear or transfer). So in my case its better to send NO check then to have them try to cash a check that will bounce.

        • Reply Hope |

          Angie,
          This place has an extra fee for EVERYTHING and there is no getting around them. I made my decision knowing that, but I also would have made a different decision had it been an individual owner rather than a large corporation.
          When I paid the rent, I had no intention of stopping it, that was a later decision.

    • Reply Katie |

      I agree that you need to call the management company ASAP if you haven’t already. Part of this blog is to face your finances head-on. To me, that includes having difficult conversations. So sorry you had to make this choice, but you need to pick up the phone. I’ve been a landlord, and if one of our renter’s checks had a stop payment, it definitely would have a ripple effect. If a tenant called me to tell me their situation, we could figure out something.

      • Reply Hope |

        Katie,
        Believe me, I have let them know on several occasions the situation I am facing, they have been unwilling to work with me at all. If payment is not made by 9am on the 2nd of every month, they charge a late fee, take away any “allowances” for the month and revert to the industry standard rent, etc. and if not paid by the 14th they tack on attorney charges. So essentially my rent goes from $1435 to about $1700 or more.
        The girls who work in the office are super sweet but completely powerless and consistently just say NO. So I had to make a decision, and I still think it was the right one for the situation we are in.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Eliza,
      I appreciate your understanding why I made the decision I did. I have submitted a letter stating the reasons and my plan, just waiting on a final bill from them.

  • Reply Trisha |

    I don’t usually comment and I honestly mean no disrespect. I can not even begin to understand what you must feel….food vs. shelter. However, with this issue I wonder why you continue to pay for activities for your children. Swim lessons and gymnastics are both costly. As a parent I understand wanting the experiences for the child but not if it means deciding between shelter and food.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Trisha,
      I certainly understand your perspective, but a couple of things to note which are somewhere in the archives. I barter for 90% of my kids activities including but not limited too Gymnasts training. I did spend $185 this spring for 3 of the kids to play volleyball and one to play softball.
      I know it’s hard to understand from the outside, but when you have lost just about everything and have little to live on, just those couple hours a week or physical play with teams makes a HUGE difference in morale around here, gives us something to look forward too and gives us something to cheer for. And that $185 will last from March to June.
      And when the stress overwhelms me and I just want to stay in bed and cry, having others expect you and need something from you…well sometimes, it is the only reason to get out of bed and keep going. (I coach two of the kids’ volleyball team as a volunteer.)

      • Reply Anonymous |

        Wasn’t it just a week ago that you chose to ‘splurge’ and travel with the entire family for a competition? You’re not making wise decisions, Hope. It’s not a matter of rent or food if you have money for ‘splurges’

  • Reply GMTB |

    I have to agree with some others here. While it wasn’t the best way, well, what’s done is done. But I do hope you contact the management company about this soon, like today, lest they charge a fee for an invalid check as well as the fee incurred by your financial institution for the stopped check fee (mine is $30).

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi GMTB,
      I have written them a letter with my payment plan explained, just waiting on the final bill from them to schedule payments based on planned income.

  • Reply Christy |

    As a landlord (my husband owns a few rental homes) I would have gone about it in a completely different manner. Most will work with you, and then you could avoid the fees and negative credit consequences as well. A deposit is not automatically applied to last month’s rent, and often isn’t for the full last month anyway. If you left the place in good condition, they would most likely apply that amount toward your rent. But we have been bitten more than once by renters who didn’t make the last payment, then left a HUGE mess to be cleaned up. I would much rather a renter come clean and try to work something out, than to just not pay and disappear.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Christy,
      I think I hit a nerve with this one. I have written this in other responses, so peruse those for details, but essentially they have been unwilling to work with me at all which I believe is because this is a HUGE corporation rather than a personal owner. And two, we are leaving the apartment clean with everything moved out, so I don’t anticipate any issues with my deposit being applied to the rent.
      And I am paying the rent, just over the next couple of months to give me a little breathing room right now.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    I’m sorry this has happened.

    Since you are unlikely to be able to save up a down payment and qualify for a mortgage in the time you are glamping, you will need to rent again.

    Your last landlord may be disinclined to give you a good reference because of this. Do all you can to make it right with them ASAP. You need to stay on their good side because, while you are leaving this month, you cannot afford to burn any bridges.

    • Reply Hope |

      Kate,
      I don’t think I made myself very clear in this post. I have every intention of paying the rent, in smaller payments over the next month or two as the financial pressure comes off a bit. I certainly have no intention of burning any bridges, just needed to make a hard financial decision while in the middle of this rock and that hard place.

      • Reply CanadianKate |

        I know you will pay the bill, just as you will eventually pay all the other bills. But, if I was the landlord, whether or not I eventually get my money, I would not give you a good recommendation. And since it is a large company, the odds are the answer to any inquiry will not be nuanced. Someone will look up your rent record and report you were late on your payments X times.

        The fact that you tried to work something out with the office doesn’t matter. They won’t report that, they’ll only report what happened in the long run.

      • Reply CanadianKate |

        BTW: I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. You can’t get a payday loan (which in this case and likely this case only would be less expensive), you’ve already talked to other creditors and put them off so you don’t really have the option to ‘rob peter to pay paul.’ I’m guessing you don’t have a good relationship at your bank to get a loan secured by your receivables for work done, so I agree you were in a hard spot.

        I’m just saying you need to avoid using that landlord as a reference if you at all can manage that.

  • Reply Denise |

    Hope, I am disgusted by your choice to do this. As an owner of apartments, myself, I feel a lot of sympathy for the person/company you are renting from. They have bills that need paid, too. As business owners, we all make choices between needs and wants so we can keep our businesses afloat. What choices have you made in the last month that could have been postponed, rather than stealing from your landlord (and doing it in a sneaky, underhanded way by stopping payment on the check, no less). It isn’t what you did that bothers me so much, as much as your very flippant attitude about it… no one should feel the stress float away after stealing. What you did shows your true character.

    • Reply Hope |

      Denise,
      I can wholly understand your viewpoint, as a long term small business owner, it hurts when clients don’t pay on time or put stop payments on checks. Believe I have experience that first hand more than once. So I am not flippant or cavalier about not paying any of my bills, to anyone ever, I apologize if it came across like that.
      The amount of stress I have been under since losing my job last October is HUGE and with a small light at this juncture is HUGE relief, so just trying to get through to this place is probably what you are hearing in my words.
      Believe me, the corporation I rent from is HUGE and they have complexes all over the area, if I was still renting from a personal owner, I would have definitely made a different decision. However, with delaying my rent payment, I was able to pay some toward bills that haven’t receiving a payment since December, and do deservedly need to be paid as well.
      As for my method, the stop payment was not planned, I went in and paid it early with the intention of paying it. I wasn’t trying to be underhanded, and believe me, they will tack on LOTS of fees. Late rent by even one day receive a $300-400 fee, I made this decision knowing this, but thinking that between my rock and my hard place, well, this was the best decision.
      I hope this clarifies my thoughts some…I will be paying the rent, just not on time this month.

      • Reply John |

        You can’t keep justifying this just by saying that they are a large company. Just because they are a large company doesn’t make this any different. They still have bills to pay, employees to pay etc. The situation you’re in sucks and I’m not sure what i would do either, and I know you say you intend on paying them, but it seems like you think this is ok just because it’s a large company that you rent from.

        • Reply Hope |

          I am not trying to justify…I absolutely HATE that I am so behind, HATE! I am simply explaining.
          But the flip side to this is that a locally owned business has not been paid since December because I just couldn’t and they have been gracious and kind as I communicated the situation. At this juncture, I needed to make a hard decision and I did.
          Not making excuses, just explaining the decision I did make.

    • Reply Anonymous |

      Totally agree with this. It’s like saying I can’t steal from a mom and pop corner store, but I can from Walmart because they wouldn’t miss it

        • Reply Anonymous |

          You wrote a check…stopped payment…and didn’t communicate that to the apartment complex. You’re still living there and receiving a ‘service’ you aren’t paying for

  • Reply RRR |

    Can’t you ask your parents for money? I bet your dad would give it to you. Or ask your kids’ dad to pony up.

So, what do you think ?