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How to Handle Rent Payments and Bills During the Public Health Emergency

Homes being built specifically for renters, not buyers
Posted at 4:51 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 20:00:25-04

Not paying your bills is the cardinal sin of good personal finance, but with COVID-19 impacting jobs across the country, many people are finding themselves in a situation with little to no income.

One of the main questions, "Can I be evicted?" The simple answer in Oklahoma is "no."

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, evictions across the state have mostly been suspended. The only exception is an "emergency eviction."

Most county courthouses are not hearing eviction cases, so experts say if you get a notice, wait, and contact your landlord.

"I think that at the end of the day, the most important thing is to communicate with your property manager what your situation is. Why you're not going to be able to afford rent, and I know in situations where it involves something surrounding COVID-19, I know property managers that are in our association are committed to working with the residents and keeping them in the home," said Keri Cooper, the executive director of the Tulsa Apartment Association.

If you own your own home, experts recommend writing a letter to your lender explaining the financial hardship you are experiencing because of the pandemic and why you cannot make your payment.

In fact, experts recommend contacting everything from your credit card company to your utility companies.

"A lot of times you may be able to be offered a short term reduction of your interest rate, maybe an extended payment deadline, maybe waived fees or maybe they will even reduce the amount of that minimum payment that you make if they don’t waive it altogether," said Matt Shulz with Lending Tree.

Companies will often times be more understanding if you can at least offer partial payment.

As for things like your electricity, most companies will not shut off your service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma says it has temporarily suspended all service disconnections due to non-payment.

They are now offering payment plans and payment assistance.

They ask you to visit their website or call them directly to work out a plan.

The biggest takeaway is to communicate and make sure to put things into writing.

The city of Tulsa is hosting a tenant rights webinar Friday, April 3.

Webinar link here

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