What to do if your tenant isn't paying rent
Posted on Saturday March 27, 2021 at 01:58PM in General
What to do if your tenant isn't paying rent
As a landlord, it is ideal to always have good tenants who pay on time who you can keep happy and satisfied. However, that is not always the case and no matter how well you screen potential tenants, you will end up with some less than pleasant tenants. When one of your tenants isn’t paying rent, it is important to have a plan with how to manage the situation. Here are some steps and words of advice for confronting and dealing with a tenant who won’t pay rent:
- Keep records and review the lease When managing rental properties there is a lot to keep track of, especially with multiple units and properties. It is especially important to keep records of payments including when and how much is due. Schedule My Rent offers an organized and simple landlord software that automatically documents when and how much tenants have paid and highlights missing payments in red making it easy to know who owes what.
- Communicate with your tenant As a landlord, if you consistently let your tenants pay late or make late partial payments without any late fees or consequences, chances are they will do so every month. You are probably relying on getting rent payments every month for your personal finances, so if your tenant doesn’t pay on time it could set you back.
- Hire a property manager If you aren’t interested in managing tenants who won’t pay their rent, or you are too lenient on enforcing timely rent payments, you might benefit from hiring a property manager. A management company is a neutral third party who has policies for handling late rent payments, and a tenant who isn’t paying you rent will probably not try to skip on rent if a professional is in charge.
- Use a property management software If you would like to still be in control of your property, but don’t want to have to hassle tenants for rent, you can use a property management software. Schedule My Rent has features that allow you to send rent reminders to tenants, add customizable late fee policies, and stop rent collection from a tenant in the eviction process. Our system will take out the hassle of managing a property and will give you full control of your business.
- Send your tenant a “pay or quit” notice In most states, landlords are required to send a “notice to pay or quit” to their tenant who isn’t paying rent. This formal letter or email says something like, “You haven’t paid rent. You have X days to pay rent in full or your lease will be terminated and you will have to move out.” Normally, the X number or days is between three and five. If your tenant doesn’t move out or pay their rent, you are able to formally terminate the lease and your tenant will lose the right to live in the unit. If your tenant doesn’t either pay or move out, you can file an action with an eviction court.
- File an eviction action A landlord is never allowed to force a tenant out of a unit without a sheriff. The sheriff is legally necessary and landlords are not allowed to cut off utilities or lock a tenant out. If your tenant didn’t respond to the “pay or quit” notice as discussed about, you can go to a local courthouse and fill out the paperwork for an eviction hearing. It is important to bring the “pay or quit” notice that you sent your tenant for the court’s records. After paying court fees, the administrator will schedule your hearing (usually two to six weeks from now). Then you or the court will serve the tenant a subpoena (a document requiring the tenant to come to court).
- Alternate to an eviction: Pay your tenant to leave If your tenant still is not paying rent after your conversation, you can still avoid the eviction process. If your tenant is having financial troubles and that is the cause of them not paying rent, you can motivate them to leave by paying them.
Before taking any action, review the lease or tenant agreement and make sure that any grace period for making rent has expired. Also check to see if a late fee was specified in the agreement. Late fees are a great motivator for tenants to pay on time. Schedule My Rent also provides features that allow landlords to set a grace period, late fees, and daily late fees automatically.
It is important to communicate with your tenant and let them know that you can’t afford not to receive rent. If your tenant doesn’t communicate with you about why they aren’t paying rent on time and create a plan with you, it might be time to take action. Let your tenant know that if they can’t pay their rent, then they can’t stay. You could offer them the option to get out of their lease early without penalty if they leave by the end of the week. Sometimes if the tenant is faced with the prospect of losing their unit, they will be more proactive and responsible about paying their rent. If your tenant doesn’t want to move forward with that option, let them know that you will be giving them a formal eviction notice.
On the court date, show up to court and argue your case. If you win a judgement against your tenant then you can hire a sheriff to legally remove your tenant.
This seems like an odd solution since you are the one who is supposed to be receiving money. Overall if you weigh the costs and benefits of the decision it might work out for the better. An eviction will most likely get a tenant out of your property, but the process is long (typically one to three months). If your tenant leaves immediately for an amount that is less than one month’s rent, you will probably save yourself some money and the stress of an eviction process.