What To Do If The Tenant Doesn’t Pay

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on June 1, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

The biggest problem faced by landlords is non-payment of rent, but if adequate steps are taken, one can minimise the loss of no rental payment. If your tenant is in the habit of not paying rent or of making partial rent payments, many leases deem past due charges, such as, unpaid late fees to be payable as added rent, which means unpaid added rent, the same as unpaid rent is valid ground for eviction.

And, if you wish to collect unpaid rent, legal process has to be followed, with landlords prepared to take quick action, collecting rent before too much time elapses. It is not fair to yourself to let a tenant string you along, be firm and take the following steps to bring an unruly tenant to heel:

  1. Late Rent Notice: Promptly issue the tenant a late notice if rent is unpaid past the grace period i.e. if rent is to be paid by first of the month, you can keep a grace period of five to seven days. And, when you issue late notice, ensure you inform tenants about late fees, as long as your lease provides for them.
  2. Telephone: If you haven’t received rent or the tenant hasn’t responded within a reasonable frame of time i.e. 2-4 days after issuing the Late Rent Notice, it is time to give him / her a call to ask why rent has still not been paid. Explain to him / her late fees can build up on a daily basis. As well, inform him / her that on so and so date, the account will automatically go to your lawyer’s office for eviction proceedings, with legal fees added to the rent owed. Again, you have to ensure legal fees are a part of the lease deed.
  3. Eviction Notice / Lawyer’s Letter: If you prefer, you can send a lawyer’s warning letter (optional) instructing the tenant to pay all rent and late fees before you actually commence court eviction. Always handy, ask your lawyer to prepare a warning letter for pre-eviction situations, which you can send along with a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit demand for payment. At the same time, the notice should warn tenants that non-payment of rent means, you have the power to make a negative impact on their credit history.
  4. Eviction Process: If the time limit in your eviction notice expires and the tenant has not paid up, be prepared to go forward with a court eviction. If you are unfamiliar with the tenant eviction process, it is recommended you use a lawyer with experience in landlord / tenant eviction cases. It is not at all advisable to conduct proceedings on your own the first time, unless you are an attorney or an expert in landlord tenant law.
  5. Credit Bureau Reporting: If a tenant owes you money, whether you’ve gone to court or not, you have the ability to report bad debt onto the tenant’s credit record, which will stay on it for 7-years.

Non-payment of rent is a serious matter and should not be ignored. Do give a tenant enough notice to pay up rent and late fees, but if he / she still does not pay up, be firm and go in for court eviction. Fair is fair, if they are using your property, should they not pay you for its use? You cannot and must not let them rip you off!

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