As a landlord, you are financially dependent on your tenants. When a tenant fails to turn in their rent payment on time, you have to worry about making your own mortgage, rent and utility payments. Being put in this situation is frustrating and sometimes angering, but before you take legal action, evaluate the situation. Perhaps your tenant is going through some hard times. Don't want to jump to conclusions, offend the tenant and then needlessly lose their tenancy. It's important that you understand why the rent is late.
Imagine this scenario: You've been trying to contact your tenant for a week. You've gone to the apartment at all times of the day, phoned, left notes on the door, and still have heard nothing back. You decide your tenant is a loser. You want his rent payment or you want him out! At the end of the week, you finally find your tenant at the mail boxes, and you angrily approach him. Frustrated and tired, you confront him about the situation, and rashly demand that he pay the overdue rent. Then he starts to cry. Through tears, he apologizes to you... says he hadn't even thought about it being rent week. It turns out his father just passed away and he was out of town for a funeral.
DO NOT let this happen to you. You will need to meet with the tenant to discuss the situation, but if you are having trouble contacting him or her, try not to become angry. True, not getting a rent payment can be frustrating, and it sometimes may cause you to evict the tenant... but before you take legal action, you need to evaluate the situation.
More than likely, the tenant will have a valid reason for not turning in the rent payment. Nevertheless, you still need your money. To take care of the late payment, you'll need to meet with your tenant. You won't be able to solve any problems if you don't open the lines of communication. Some possible reasons for a late payment include:
- Your tenant is withholding rent because the unit is unsafe/needs repairs. If this is the case, you probably already know about the situation and need to make the repairs. If the tenant has notified you of the problem and provided you with written requests expecting repairs be made within a reasonable amount of time, they have the right to withhold rent until the repairs are made. However, if this is the first you've heard of the needed repairs, you may find it necessary to take your tenant to small claims court. Before you take them to court, however, talk the situation over with them. See if the two of you can reach an agreement. Then, get this agreement in writing.
- The payment was lost in the mail. Believe it or not, this really does happen. Not often, mind you, but sometimes. If the payment was a check, get them to cancel the check through the bank and write another one for you.
- The tenant lost his or her job or can't work because of an illness. Unfortunately, this happens. If this is the problem with your tenant, find out what their plan is. If they are a good tenant, and you have faith that they will be able to come up with the money, you might want to give them an extension. The tenant may be able to get the money from a friend or family member. However, if you are unable to provide them with an extension, you may need to give them a notice to vacate, but not less than the time allowed in your community.
- The tenant forgot. Hey, it happens. If you're lucky, this is the case and you can get your payment on the spot and go home happy. or...
- The tenant is a deadbeat, doesn't feel like paying, and tells you so. If this is so, you will definitely need to start the eviction process.... but don't assume your tenant is a deadbeat until you know for sure!
The bottom line: Most tenants will make a good faith effort to pay their rent. If the rent is unpaid, the first step is to listen to tenants and then work with them to arrange full payment.
About The Author:
Dan The Roommate Man