In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdowns, moratoriums on rent and utility bills went into place across the country. This eased the financial burdens and stress that many households faced during this time. Even if you could not make payments, landlords could not evict you and utility companies would not shut off your electricity, gas or other services.
However, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted in May to end the moratoriums on utilities. So, what happens next?
When do you have to pay?
A moratorium is not loan forgiveness – just a deferment. Therefore, households are still responsible for all the usage of utilities since the beginning of the moratorium.
As of now, the Commission voted to lift the moratorium on August 12. News sources report that disconnects and shut-offs could begin then as well.
However, it is important to note that even though the moratorium is set to end on August 12, that does not mean you must pay the total on all your utility bills by then. The amount of time you have to pay back your bills depends on several factors – including the steps you take now.
What should you do?
You have options to avoid utility disconnects as well as financial stress. It might be helpful to:
- Understand your budget: It is never too late to prepare a budget. While August 12 might feel close, it is still beneficial to calculate what you can contribute to paying the past due balances. Planning for any bill payment is critical but remember that you do not have to pay the total balance yet.
- Contact your utility provider as soon as possible: Almost all utility companies across the state are offering customers payment programs to manage their bills. Many of them even have financial aid available. As long as customers reach out to them and show a consistent effort to pay back the balances accrued during the moratorium, they will not shut off utilities. Proving this effort is where it will be helpful to have your budget planned out.
- Research other financial support options: Additionally, there are other state and federal programs that might be able to help you manage your past due balances effectively.
Dealing with debt and back payments can be overwhelming – especially after this last year. However, there are solutions to help you take control of your finances and prevent debt from spiraling.