You are here

Small Business Tip: How to speak with your landlord about being late on your rent

Published April 13, 2020

By Ellen Kast

Editor's note: Ellen Kast is a business management and operations consultant

Talking to your landlord is one of the last things you want to do right now. Rent is likely your largest monthly expense and since you have a lease, it’s not going away. If your small business requires commercial floor space to operate, getting in front of your problems may prevent your business from sinking during this pandemic and the aftermath. Lack of business is hurting everyone, including landlords. Your landlord may be under pressure to pay expenses on your building. If you have been a good tenant, your landlord may prefer to keep you on board to avoid a costly, slow eviction process. Take a deep breath and set aside time in your daily planner to tackle this problem before you get too far behind. 

  1. Look at your finances. What money is coming in and what bills are due. Determine how much money you can allocate to the rent and make a plan (for example, pay some now, each month pay the balance due on the rent and late payments, etc.). Take notes so you are prepared for the call.
  2. Read your lease. Become familiar with the payment terms, late fees and eviction information.  Again, take notes to prepare for your call. 
  3. Be brave and contact the landlord to set a video call.  Speak to the landlord herself rather than a clerk or agent because they may not have the authority to make decisions. Virtual face-to-face contact with your landlord will make it harder on her to say “no” to your plan. 
  4. Attitude and preparation is key. Attend your call prepared with facts in your notes and a plan on what you can do. Be open and honest about your situation with a positive attitude about your plans. 
  5. Listen carefully to your landlord during the conversation. She may have ideas to help you. There is no guarantee that your landlord will accept your plan but you must give it your best try in order to help your business. Remain open minded and calm under pressure.
  6. Do not jump to accept an offer if you are not comfortable. If you need 24 hours to think about an offer, ask for this time and then respond on time. Your landlord does not want this to drag on.
  7. Put your deal in writing. Hopefully, you will reach an agreement. Have your landlord put it in writing before you start paying.

Good luck with your call and better days are ahead of us all.

Ellen Kast is a Business Management and Operations Consultant from Tampa, Florida. An entrepreneur, manufacturing business owner and attorney, she provides strategy, direction and hands-on leadership to increase business efficiency and productivity.  Recognized as an innovator, consistently capable of creating new ideas and solutions to meet operational challenges and goals in market downturns. A mentor, coach, and leader with a proven track record of success in leading functional performance teams in the US and internationally. She can be reached at

Ellen Kast.
Topics associated with this article: Coronavirus

Join the Conversation