Based on true events.
Sang Ly lives at Cambodia's city dump and is grateful she can help earn a living for her family by sifting through the trash for recyclables and things that can be repaired and sold. On a good day, she can earn enough to buy food for her family. She needs enough good days so she can pay the rent collector, Sopeap--a grumpy old woman who shows no mercy and who is willing to evict any tenant who can't pay their rent on time.
When Sang Ly is unable to pay her rent for the month, she fears her family will have to leave the dump and their shanty home, a place where her only possessions can be carried in two hands. Little does she know that a discarded children's book found among the mounds of trash would save her. When Sopeap sees the book lying on Sang Ly's cardboard bed, her mood changes. Sang Ly offers her the book if she is allowed to keep her family at the dump.
An unlikely friendship develops between the two women, and Sang Ly learns that Sopeap knows how to read--something that Sang Ly has always wanted to learn. Being able to read could transform Sang Ly's world beyond the predictable confines of the dump and lead to a future with possibilities and hope. But the rent collector has a secret and tragic past, one that will not be easy for Sang Ly to navigate.
With the help of her supportive husband, Ki Lim, and a helpful and humorous boy, Lucky Fat, Sang Ly embarks on a life-changing journey to give her young son, Nisay, a better life and future. The Rent Collector is about the power of literacy, the influence of the past, and finding hope, resiliency, and empowerment in the face of seemingly endless hardship.