Taking out any type of loan to pay for rent is best saved as a last resort, since interest will make your rent more expensive. Fortunately, there are several places you can turn to for help before borrowing. You might want to start by reaching out to your local housing authority — they can typically help you find assistance programs you might qualify for from your provincial or local government. Otherwise, many local charities and nonprofits are armed to help members of their community avoid eviction.
Rental relief available during the coronavirus outbreak
If you’re struggling to make rent payments because of the effects of the pandemic, you may be able to get help through provincial programs. See our guide on rent support during COVID-19 to see if there are special options in place for renters affected by the coronavirus where you live. Many provinces have declared a temporary freeze on rental evictions during this time.
While taking out a personal or short-term loan can help you cover rent, it’s not ideal: It can lead to a cycle of debt that could put you in a worse financial situation. Especially if you can only qualify for a short-term loan, which typically come with APRs in the triple digits.
Consider alternatives, such as negotiating with your landlord or applying for housing assistance, before borrowing.
Find a personal loan to pay for rent
I’ve been evicted. Can I use a loan to help?
Yes, you can use a loan to help cover rent if you’re facing eviction — but you might want to reach out to a lawyer to discuss your options first. They can help you determine whether your landlord violated any of your tenant rights during the eviction process. And they might be able to help you find an alternative way to cover your rent so you don’t need to borrow.
9 ways to cover rent in an emergency
Consider these options if you need help covering your rent:
Make a partial rent payment
Best for: Renters who are able to pay some, but not all of their rent.
Your landlord may be willing to accept a partial payment if you can prove you’ll be able to make up the rest of your rent later in the month. You might also want to ask whether a modified payment plan is an option if you expect your financial hardship to last for a few months.
If they agree to accept a partial payment or adjust your contract, get it in writing to avoid any issues down the road.
Short-term housing assistance
Best for: Renters who are experiencing long-term financial hardship.
Many cities, regions and provinces offer voucher programs that can help with short-term housing emergencies. This may mean all or a portion of your rent is paid, or it could be temporary relief from rent payments.
Visit your local housing authority or rental assistance programs in your province to go over your options and apply for aid.
Assistance from local charities
Best for: Renters who don’t meet the standards for government-based aid.
Charities and faith-based organizations may offer housing assistance if you’re unable to qualify for a government voucher program or need additional aid. This can include help paying rent or temporary housing if you’re facing eviction.
To find options available where you live, reach out to your local housing authority, as well as homeless ministries and charities in your area.
Family and friends
Best for: Renters with a strong support system who might be willing to help.
You might have someone in your corner willing to help cover rent. While not a long-term solution, it can help you make it through a financial rough patch without accruing late fees from multiple missed rent payments. Just clarify expectations first: determine when and how you’ll be able to repay your friend or family member to avoid straining your relationship.
Best for: Renters with steady income who are temporarily unable to cover rent.
Personal loans allow you to borrow as little as $1,000 for almost any purpose. If you have good to excellent credit, you may be able to score a low interest rate — and loan terms typically last anywhere from two to five years.
While paying interest on your rent isn’t ideal, this is a good option for borrowers experiencing temporary financial hardship, especially if you don’t qualify for local rental assistance programs.
Best for: Renters with a high credit limit whose landlords accept credit card payments.
If your landlord allows it, you can use your credit card to cover your rent payment. This is especially helpful if you have a card that’s still under a 0% intro APR period. If you pay off the balance before the promotion is up, you won’t pay interest on your rent payment.
Otherwise, you might want to save this as a last resort, since most credit cards come with APRs that range anywhere from 16% to 29% — not to mention the credit card processing fee many landlords or management companies charge.
Credit card cash advance
Best for: Renters with a high credit limit whose landlords don’t accept credit card payments.
Just keep in mind this typically comes with a cash advance fee which is a percentage of the amount withdrawn, on top of the interest you’ll pay each month. And most credit card issuers limit the amount you can withdraw per day — typically anywhere from $100 to $1,000.
Pay advance apps
Best for: Renters with a steady job who are short on rent.
Pay advance apps offer small-dollar advances of your future earnings. If you’re only short a couple of hundred dollars on rent, this might be a good alternative to a short-term loan. Depending on the app you go with, you might be able to get an advance of $75 to $500 per pay cycle.
You don’t need to have good credit to qualify, and most don’t charge interest. Instead, you’ll be asked to leave a tip or charged a monthly subscription fee of $10 to $20.
Best for: Renters with a steady source of income who’ve exhausted all other options.
If you’ve hit dead ends with every other option listed above, a short-term loan can help you cover rent as a last resort. However, you’ll need to have a steady source of income to qualify — whether that’s through a job or government benefits.
Keep in mind this is the most expensive option on this list, with APRs in the triple digits that can make repayments difficult to afford.
How to get an emergency loan for rent
If you’re waiting to see if you’ve been approved for housing assistance, but still need to cover back rent, follow these steps to apply for a personal loan:
While the information you need to provide will vary by lender, most will ask for the following:
Proof of employment
Proof of residence
Government-issued photo ID
Social insurance number
Bank account information
What are my rights as a tenant?
As a tenant of a rental property, you have the right to safe, livable housing. Your province may have special rules regarding eviction or rent nonpayment, so browse tenants’ rights laws by province to see what legal protections you have if you’re unable to make your rent.
How to avoid needing a loan for rent in the future
Although emergencies can feel inevitable, here are a few measures you can take to avoid needing a loan for rent in the future:
Enroll in government assistance programs. There are several provincial assistance programs — including subsidized housing, housing vouchers and public housing — you can turn to if the cost of living is too high for your current financial situation.
Sign up for credit counseling. If you consistently need to borrow to make ends meet, a credit counselor can help you create a budget and debt repayment plan.
Consider debt consolidation. Borrowing a loan for debt consolidation may help you combine some of your high-interest debts into one monthly payment. And for some people, it can reduce the amount you pay overall — easing the strain on your budget and making rent more affordable.
Get a roommate. If you have extra space in your house or apartment and your landlord approves, a roommate can help cut down on your rent and utility costs until your lease ends and you can find less-expensive housing.
Take on a second job. Though not always feasible, taking on a side gig or part-time job can help supplement your income if you aren’t bringing in enough to pay your bills.
If you’re facing an emergency and don’t have enough money for rent, you might want to first look into housing assistance offered by government agencies and local charities, then consider our list of alternatives.
Laws vary by province, and your landlord may have their own terms set out in your contract. You might want to speak to an attorney to get help specific to your situation.
A tenants’ rights attorney might be helpful if your landlord is violating the terms of your lease or if you’re facing eviction. However, you should know the costs of going to court — especially if you owe back rent or fees. See if a lawyer is willing to discuss your case at a lower rate or pro bono before pursuing legal action.
Kellye Guinan is a writer and editor with Finder and has years of experience in academic writing and research. Between her passion for books and her love of language, she works on creating stories and volunteering her time on worthy causes. She lives in the woods and likes to find new bug friends in between reading just a little too much nonfiction.
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