How do I prepare for a direct negotiation?
You have 30 days to try to reach an agreement with your landlord before your landlord can file an eviction case in court. Use this opportunity to find out if a realistic agreement is possible.
1. Gather Information
- Ask the landlord for a copy of the ledger submitted in the Eviction Diversion Program application. This is a summary of rent and other charges and payments during your lease.
- Check if there are other issues the landlord wants to address including back rent, the end of the lease term or other concerns (rental insurance, pets, guest policy, etc). Does the landlord want you to move out or just to address issues like rent?
- Think about if there are issues you want to discuss. These may include repairs, extending the lease term and re-establishing better communication.
2. Get organized
- Prepare a monthly household budget.
- This will include income for all members of the household and all your monthly expenses. The budget will help you understand your priorities and options going forward. You may be eligible for additional income from unemployment benefits or SNAP/food stamps. For help seeing what benefits you might be entitled to you can call BenePhilly.
- If there are repair issues, learn more about your rights as a tenant. Think about whether you want to ask your landlord to make repairs as part of an agreement or not.
- Review your options for an agreement. Generally, a landlord will want to know if you want to stay in the property or if you will move out. Below are two payment plan examples:
What type of agreement can I make with the landlord?
A payment plan includes regular rent plus an additional amount. For monthly rental agreements, this may mean regular rent by the fifth (5th) of the month and a repayment amount by the twentieth (20th) of the month.
- Nine-month payment plan. Take the total amount owed and divide by nine. This will be the additional payment each month. If you cannot afford this amount, review your budget and propose what you can realistically afford.
- Balloon payment. If you expect a lump sum future income such as a tax return, you may consider an agreement with a balloon payment. Pay your regular rent and then the balance of what is owed by a certain date. Be careful as you are not always guaranteed to receive the lump sum you think you will.
You may decide you do not want to stay or you cannot afford to stay in your home. Start looking for places to move to or make plans to stay with a friend, family member or in a shelter while you find a permanent place to move to. Discuss with your family a move-out timeline. The landlord will want to know a date you can realistically move out. From that date, you can negotiate other terms like whether you will pay ongoing rent and back rent. You may discuss your security deposit which may include an additional “last month” rent.
Send a proposal to your landlord with your goals and terms you believe are fair. The goal of negotiations is to find out if there is something both tenant and landlord can agree on.
How do I negotiate with the landlord?
Set up a time to talk with your landlord. You may meet in person or talk over the phone.
Start the conversation by focusing on what you can both agree on. Talk about what benefits both you and the landlord. A realistic agreement will avoid the costs and burdens of a the eviction process in court.
Explain the hardship. Ask for any flexibility from your landlord given your circumstances including recent challenges. We have all faced difficulties due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and your landlord may relate.
After you finish the conversation, follow up with a written summary. Make sure your landlord confirms the agreement with you in writing. Review these tips and an sample agreement. Follow up as needed to maintain the agreement. If you do not keep the agreement, your landlord can file an eviction case against you in court.
I couldn’t come to an agreement with my landlord. What now?
After your negotiation session, you may not reach an agreement. You may disagree about rent owed, repairs or other obligations. However, you may continue to discuss the issues and try to reach an agreement.
If a landlord wants to evict, the landlord must go through a legal process in court. Your landlord may seek a legal eviction 30 days after their application for the Eviction Diversion Program.
You must attend the hearing on time even if you are still negotiating with your landlord outside of court. If you do not attend court, your landlord may move forward with a legal eviction.
Reach out for legal help to the Philly Tenant Hotline for legal information and advice at 267-443-2500.