What to do if you're worried about paying your rent or mortgage

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- For many, rent is due Wednesday and some won’t be able to pay.

This comes as thousands of applications for unemployment benefits continue to flood the state department of workforce development. If you’re worried about making your rent or mortgage payment right now, you’re not alone.

Robin Sereno, Executive Director at the Tenant Resource Center in Madison says right now, they’re getting around 300 calls per day, sometimes more. “Calls have increased as well as our emails.” Sereno says they’re seeing people from all economic backgrounds impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal, state and local officials have adopted policies to temporarily protect renters and homeowners during the public health crisis. In Wisconsin, officials banned evictions and foreclosures
for 60 days.

As for subsidized housing, there's a federal 120-day on eviction orders as well as other temporary sources of relief for people who need it.

“It's helpful. Gives us a minute as a community to stop and think about what response is coming from the federal government,” but Sereno says it’s also a band-aid for many and doesn’t fully solve the issue. Most people will still have to pay what they owe later and this could include added late fees.

Sereno says it’s important to know that more help is coming for those who need it but there are steps you can take when the bans are lifted.

1. Communicate with your landlord or lender, explaining how you’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19.
2. Try to negotiate and show good faith by paying what you can.
3. Keep documentation of all correspondence and anything that can help with any litigation when the courts re-open.
4. Know your rights.
5. Seek help if you need it.

Sereno says it’s important that everyone, including landlords know their rights and responsibilities during this time of uncertainty.

If you have questions about your situation or need legal help you're encouraged to contact the Tenant Resource Center. Most calls are returned within a day.