July 17, 2017

Grappling with tenants who pay their rent late is one of the worst parts of a landlord’s job. Here are some ways you can deal with late rental payments and tenants who just won’t pay on time.

Charge Late Fees

Obviously, this is something you will have to detail in the lease, but late fees can help you gain back your lost funds when a tenant is late on the rent. While you may be willing to give someone a pass the very first time their rent is late, you will need to be stricter if it happens again.

Each state has different laws about when, how and how much to charge when it comes to late fees, so make sure you know your state’s policies backwards and forwards. According to Rentalutions, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to charge no more than 5 percent of the tenant’s rent at first and then to increase the amount the longer the individual doesn’t pay up.

Keep Track of Everything

Keeping track of when your tenant makes their payments and how much was paid on that date is absolutely paramount in case you do need to bring the issue to court. In addition, there are ways of keeping track of rent payments that can make everything much easier on you and the tenant. Having them pay online, for example, will take a face-to-face meeting out of the equation, making it impossible for them to claim they weren’t able to pay because you weren’t available.

Find Out What’s Going On

There might be a reason why your tenant’s rent is late, and they may have a perfectly understandable excuse. A death in the family or something similar should garner some sympathy on your part. If the person is experiencing a financial issue (like if they have lost their job), there are ways you can help them and deal with it together. For example, you can refer them to a rent assistance program.

However, some tenants will always have an excuse for why their rent is late, and no matter how much time they’re given, they will keep arguing that they need more. When this is the case, sympathy isn’t necessary.

Don’t Wait to Evict

When eviction seems imminent and you know you have done all you can in order to avoid it and to be understanding of your tenant, it is important to start the process as soon as possible. You won’t want to miss your window or to experience an even more drawn-out issue because you are waiting on the eviction process to get to the next step.

The best way to know that it’s time for eviction is to ask yourself:

  • Is the renter trustworthy?
  • Is this the first time an issue like this has happened?
  • Can I no longer expect them to pay the rent in the future?

If the answer to all of these is no, it’s time to start the process of eviction.

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