Past due

5 Tips for Dealing with Late or Unpaid Rent

Last week on the blog, we discussed several strategies that landlords can use to encourage renters to pay their rent on time. Unfortunately, there are always a handful of tenants who push the limit by sending their rent in late, or worse, stop paying rent altogether.

Here are our tips for dealing with overdue rent or non-payments:

1) Stay calm and respectful

While dealing with these cases can be extremely stressful, it’s important to approach the situation as calmly as possible. Often, landlords who react solely based on emotions aren’t acting in the best interest of their business. A heated response may risk damage to the property, while taking too soft an approach may lead to repeated offenses. Treat your tenants respectfully, but don’t be afraid to communicate and enforce the rules as outlined by your lease agreement.

2) Have an in-person meeting with your tenant

Set up an in-person meeting with the tenant to hold them accountable and, discuss why they haven’t been able to pay the rent. If there is an extenuating circumstance, like a sudden job loss or medical emergency, you may feel inclined to offer them a one-time temporary payment plan to catch up. If they do not appear to be serious about paying the rent on time, this may be a good opportunity to go over late penalties and/or serve a Notice of Non-Payment of Rent.

3) Act quickly

It’s important that landlords proceed with some sort of action as soon as the payment is past due. Whether it’s simply charging a late penalty fee, or serving a notice, landlords need to convey that rent is to be taken seriously. Delays can also get quite costly, as the eviction process often does not begin until a notice is filed, and can take anywhere from five days to several months (depending on the location) to complete.

4) Keep proper documentation

If you plan to evict your tenant or even file a lawsuit to recover the unpaid rent, you will need to legally prove your claims with adequate documentation. Make sure that all agreements and notices are given in person and in writing. Keep records of all your rental payment receipts to show your tenant’s payment history, especially if they have a habit of paying rent late. If you’ve decided to allow your tenant to repay rent at a later date or in partial payments under special circumstances, make sure this is a written agreement signed by both parties.

5) Do not accept partial payments if you plan to evict

In many areas, if after a tenant is served official notice to pay they still owe outstanding rent, the landlord is able to proceed with the eviction process. However, be aware that accepting partial payment in lieu of a full payment of rent at any time during the notice period may result in costly delays and complications in the eviction process.

For example, if a tenant pays a partial payment during the notice period, the notice to pay or vacate is nulled. If they fail to pay the remainder, they do not need to vacate, and another notice must be served.

In some areas, if a landlord accepts a partial payment after the notice period is over and the tenant fails to pay a second time, the landlord must begin the eviction process again, providing first a notice and then filing for eviction.

Do you have any tips to share on handling late or unpaid rent?

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