Can you pay the rent on May 1? Here’s what to do if you can’t

Money in hand.
Money in hand.

Trent Gardner worked as a bartender at Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for ten years until he was furloughed in March. He used savings to pay April's rent. But even though he's now on unemployment and received some stimulus money, he won't be able to pay his $1,500 May rent, and still provide necessities for his 16-year-old daughter and himself.

"I've never been late on a rent payment," he said. "This is a new situation for a lot of us."

When he asked his landlord about rent relief last month, the company said tenants could defer payments for 90 days, but stipulated the full back rent would be due at the end of the lease. With his lease up in June, Gardner decided he couldn't risk having to come up with several months of payments all at once, especially with his financial future so uncertain.

"Everything will change, but I don't know how," he said. "I can't even answer for myself whether my job will come back. How can you say where you are going to be if you don't know what you have coming in?"

Across the country, tenant advocates and housing lawyers are sounding alarms that an increasing number of renters will not be able to pay rent on May 1st. What's more, they are concerned many renters will lose their homes as suspensions on evictions phase out and rent relief is not widely available.

If you can't pay your rent, this is what you should do.

Know the tenant protections where you live