Rent Payment Policy - Qumbya Co-op

The is the Payment Policy from Qumbya Housing Co-op (Chicago, IL) as of 2013.  This policy was created in 2008 out of a response to series of siginificant member debt losses. The policy is relatively strict by co-op standards. It does allow for payment plans, which may be up to 2 months in duration, and must be approved before a debt is accrued, not after. The wisdom gained from the series of losses which we attempted to base this polic on are:

* If a member gets more than 2 months behind on rent, they are very unlikely to ever catch up.

* Problems with rent payment are often communication problems. If a member is willing and able to communicate with the co-op about their ability to pay rent before it is due, then they are likely to make good on their promises in a payment plan. If a member is not willing and able to do so, they will likely continue to not meet their obligations, causing stress and sliding further behind.

* The loss of trust with a member who does not pay their rent is often a greater blow to the stability of the co-op and community, than the financial loss. Those collecting rent and enforcing policy become very stressed. Other members may try to avoid discussing the difficult situation; they will become resentful of the delinquent member. The member themself often becomes wrapped in in guilt in shame: trying to meet their obligations to the co-op, dealing with other stresses from financial strain, confusion about their relationship with the co-op (Why are people shunning me? Isn't the co-op supposed support its members? The co-op is supposed to be more like a family than a landlord).

* Although each member's life situation is unique, the needs of the co-op are consistent. It is possible for the co-op to decide in advance how they want to handle various situations, define that in policy, and then avoid the very stressful situation of debating the best course of action in the middle of a crisis. It's easier for everyone when expectations are defined and set in advance.