Dealing with a Non-Paying Tenant

When a tenant is not paying their rent, it can cause a host of problems for landlords. This is particularly true for those who rely on income from their properties. Although it might be tempting to start the eviction process right away when someone doesn’t pay, you have to first take a breath and relax. You need to be sure you are following all of the proper protocols and laws in the state where you live before you can evict someone.

Additionally, there are often other methods to use first that are less extreme that could work better for you. Let’s look at the steps you should take when dealing with a tenant that does not pay their rent.

Send Out a Late Rent Notice

Sometimes, a tenant might simply forget to pay the rent. While it sounds implausible, it can and does happen. They might have several other important things happening in their life and they may have thought they sent out the check or made the online payment. There could legitimately be a problem with the system they used to pay, or the rent check could have gone missing in the mail.

It’s important to give the tenants the benefit of the doubt, especially if this is the first time that it’s happened. Simply send out a formal rent notice to them and let them know that they are late on rent and what the late fee is going to be. If it’s the first time they are late, you might even want to waive the late fee to be courteous.

Most of the time, if the tenant has simply forgotten to pay rent or if there was an issue with the payment system, they will pay once they get the notice.

Contact the Tenant by Phone

However, that’s not the case with all tenants. Sometimes, they won’t respond to the late rent notice at all. In that case, you will then want to attempt to contact them by phone. Several different things could happen at this stage.

In some cases, the tenant might not have received the notice and will pay right away. The tenant might also provide you with a reason that they haven’t paid their rent, such as if there is a repair issue that you have ignored. If that’s the case, you will want to check the rental lease agreement to see if the tenant has that right or not.

Other times, the tenant might tell you that they don’t have the money to pay the rent right now, but they want to make things right.

Try to Work with Your Tenant if Possible

Sometimes, a tenant might be late with the rent because they have suffered a financial hardship of some sort. They might have had a medical emergency or they could have lost their job. Even though you might have the right to pursue eviction at this stage, you may want to hold off for now.

Everyone goes through financial hardships at some point. Try to be compassionate and work with the tenant if you can. If the tenant has always been on time with their rent in the past, see if you can set up a payment arrangement with them to pay a bit more in rent going forward until they’ve made up the difference that they owe.

There are many potential options and avenues that you could take to try to work with your tenant in these cases. If they are a good tenant and you are able, try your best to find a solution that will work out best for both of you. It will avoid the trouble and legal fees associated with evictions.

Before you come to any agreement, make sure that you are in a financial position to handle it on your end. You may also want to consult with an attorney.

In Some Cases, You Will Need to Evict the Tenant

Although it’s not something you want to have to go through because it can be a major hassle, eviction could be the only option that you have left. If you have tried to contact the tenant several times and they aren’t making an effort to pay you the rent they owe, eviction is likely the best route.

You will provide the tenant with a formal eviction notice. If they do not agree to leave the property, you will need to file an eviction through the courts. You will present your case when you have a hearing date. If the judge agrees with you, the tenant will have no choice but to leave the rental property. If they don’t, law enforcement can come and remove the tenant and their belongings from the home.

Evictions can be costly and time-consuming, so you will want to be sure you’ve tried everything else before you opt for this route.

Know the Current Laws

If you are a landlord, you should have familiarized yourself with the laws that apply to tenants and landlords in your state. Even if you know the law, you’ll find that it’s often better to work with an attorney that can help with your eviction case. They will make sure that everything proceeds legally and as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, if you have a property management company, they are likely well-versed in the area of eviction. They can help to handle this process and will know how to ensure everything goes through the proper legal channels.

No landlord wants to have non-paying tenants, and they don’t want to get to the point where they have to evict someone. However, it can and does happen all the time. It’s estimated that around a million or more evictions occur each year in the United States.

Even though you may not want to go this route, you have to protect your investment and your business. Just make sure that you handle it the right way, so you don’t have legal issues later.

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