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Can't pay all the bills? Here are your options

Lenders offering delayed payments, grace periods
Posted at 11:04 AM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 12:37:28-04

It's now April, which means the rent, mortgage, car payment and other bills are now due. But what if you're out of work or have reduced hours and can't pay them all?

Chrissy Roberts runs The Rose Room in Dayton, Kentucky, a bar that has been in her family for years.

With the bar closed, her family has no income, but there's still rent, a water bill and even a cable TV bill due.

"Even though no money is coming in, we still have to pay our bills and the rent," Roberts said.

Roberts is hoping for relief but has yet to see it.

She asked Spectrum about putting her cable account on hold for two months while her bar is closed but learned the best they can do is let her delay payment for 60 days.

"We need a break," she said. "We need something or we are not going to survive."

Options you may have

So what can you do if you can't pay the bills this month?

With the help of the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati, we looked into what options you have.

To start with, prioritize your bills. Legal Aid's Nick Dinardo says rent should always be first, after basic needs like food.


"Tenants are still legally required to offer their rent," he said.

Can't afford the April or May rent? Many cities are prohibiting evictions, but the exact rule varies.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is asking landlords to grant small businesses a 90-day pause on rent, but states cannot force residential landlords to defer rent collection.

So you need to call your landlord and ask for a one-month delay in your rent payment if you cannot pay it.

Mortgage payments

Can't afford the mortgage? The federal government has banned foreclosure on federally backed mortgages (that have Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac behind them), but you still need to contact your lender.

Tell your bank or landlord you will pay them after you receive your stimulus or first unemployment check.

"There may be those $1,200 stimulus checks, there may be other unemployment compensation," DiNardo said.

Gas and electric bill

Major utilities like Duke Energy are giving a grace period and postponing disconnection, but you need to call and explain your situation.

Cable, internet

Spectrum, Comcast, Xfinity and others say if you call, they will not terminate you for missing a bill or charge late fees during the shutdown.

Medical bills

You will still need to pay a small amount to avoid falling behind, so call your doctor. Sometimes a $20 payment will be enough.

Car loans

Some lenders are allowing car buyers to suspend their payments for 30 , 60, or even 90 days. Check with your lender.

Student loans

Federal student loans are being deferred for at least three months, which means you can skip your payment and not be penalized. With private loans, you will need to call your lender.


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