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Can't pay rent because of coronavirus? Here's what to do

Many property management companies are stopping late fees and mortgage lenders are deferring their payments.

About half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck to keep roofs over their heads, but now millions aren't working because of the coronavirus.

As the first of the month approaches this week, paying rent or your mortgage becomes a bigger worry. 

"Not even paycheck to paycheck because it's night-to-night, it's shift-to-shift, a lot of it," said service industry worker Courtney Green. "So yeah, I mean all of our friends are freaked out and scared too. It's seriously pretty much everyone we know."

Green and her boyfriend are bartenders, with a nine-month-old child, who are both now out of jobs. Their mortgage is paid right now, but it still comes at a cost.

"But further than that, like I said, we're gonna have to go into savings, we're gonna have to do whatever we have to do," Green said.

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First Coast News asked a member of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors what to do if you don't know how you'll pay your rent.

"The biggest thing that they can do right now is just communicate," said Mario Gonzalez, broker/owner of Navy to Navy Homes and member of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. "Communicate to your landlord or communicate to your property manager and let them know what financial distress you are in."

Gonzalez says many property management companies are stopping late fees and mortgage lenders are deferring their payments.

"Some are doing it 30 days, 60," he said. "The largest I've heard or the longest I've heard so far is 120 days."

Gonzalez says landlords are worried too, many depending on their tenants' rents to make mortgage payments.

"Everyone is kind of in this together," he said. "So if the tenants can continue paying on a partial basis and stay within a month of their current fee, then the landlord can communicate to their financial institution and really kind of move this train together."

Gonzalez says the most important thing is communication. He says the landlords he's worked with are understanding.

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Green says her family is stuck in a "limbo."

"With trying to get a job at Costco or one of those places, we have the nine-month-old baby so we don't want to be exposed to anything and bring it home," she said.

Property managers say you shouldn't be afraid to reach out to your bank or through a program for help.

President Trump announced foreclosures and evictions are suspended through the end of April.

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