Landlord Advice: What to Do When Your Tenants Don’t Pay Rent

a young caucasian man with his hands in his head concerned because has just received an eviction notice

As one of the over 8 million independent landlords in the U.S., you’re certainly reaping the rewards of your investment.

Being a landlord has a number of enviable perks. You’re your own boss, earning passive income without putting in a lot of work. Plus, investing in real estate is an effective way to grow your wealth.

However, being a landlord is not without its fair share of challenges. One of the most common challenges is problematic tenants, especially those who don’t pay their rent on time.

How do you deal with such tenants? We’ve got landlord advice that’ll help you know how to deal with the issue diligently.

Read on!

Check Your Records

One of your responsibilities as a landlord is to keep accurate records of rental payments. However, not all landlords do this. Especially if you’ve got one rental unit, it’s easy to see how you might skip keeping records since you’re dealing with one tenant.

That’s understandable, but if you’ve got multiple units, there’s no excuse for not staying on top of record keeping. Even with one unit, it’s still prudent to keep records, just in case you need to confirm something.

As such, the first step to take when you believe a tenant has skipped on their rent is to check your records. Verify that indeed the date is due and their rent hasn’t come in.

Reach Out to the Tenant

Depending on the systems you use to collect and keep track of rental payments, it can be difficult to know whether a tenant has paid or not.

Ordinarily, you’ll collect a payment slip from your tenant if you require them to make a cash deposit to your account. Newer platforms get rid of this old method, as they send your notifications once a tenant has paid their rent.

It’s possible that a tenant has paid their rent but due to whatever reason, their payment hasn’t shown up on your end. This is why it’s important to reach out to the client and politely ask them about the issue.

Reaching out enables you to get clear information from the tenant. If they have paid and you don’t have records to show it, you can take further steps to get the information, such as getting in touch with your rent collection service provider. If they deposited money into your account, you can ask the tenant to provide a copy of the receipt if they have one.

The tenant might also tell you that they haven’t paid, upon which you can enquire why they’re late and when they plan to pay.

Most issues can be resolved through open communication. Sometimes a tenant will skip their rent because they lost a job or their salary is late. Other times it’s because they’re away or even hospitalized and thus unable to make the payment.

Other times, though, a tenant will play games with you. You might not even be able to reach them on the phone or find them at the address.

Send a Late Rent Notice

It’s okay to skip the step above and send a late rent notice once you’ve checked your records and verified that a tenant hasn’t paid up. The second step, though, is what a savvy landlord does.

A late rent notice serves a specific purpose and more often than not it will get a tenant to act, but what if the tenant is ill and hospitalized. There might be no one to respond to your notice for some time, right? But when you first reach out and maybe establish that the tenant is hospitalized, you can hold on sending the notice, especially if the tenant doesn’t have any history of making late rent payments.

Nonetheless, a late rent notice reminds the tenant that their rent is past due. You can email or mail it to the tenant. It’s also okay to tape it on their door.

The notice should clearly state that you’re bound to take further legal action should the tenant fail to pay up soon after.

What if you don’t hear from the tenant?

If you contacted them before sending the notice and they still haven’t paid up, don’t make the call again. A tenant can sue you for harassment if you call them repeatedly.

If you hadn’t called, you can call after the notice. If you don’t reach them, take the next step.

Pay or Quit Notice

As a landlord, you’re within your rights to evict a tenant who hasn’t paid their rent, which is a clear violation of the rental agreement.

But you can’t just evict a tenant like that. There are legal procedures to follow, depending on the laws in your state. In Florida, for instance, you must serve a 3 day notice before eviction.

The first step in the eviction process is to send a pay or quit notice. This fleshes out the amount owed, including late fees, and the deadline to make the payment.

Before sending this notice, ensure you have made a good faith effort to verify that the tenant indeed received the late rent notice.

Kickstart the Legal Eviction Process

Forceful eviction is illegal across the U.S.

To evict a tenant, you have to go to court and file for eviction. It’s advisable to hire an eviction lawyer to help you with the process since it’s a lengthy process with loads of paperwork.

It’s important not to accept partial payments or make a deal with the tenant, especially once you’ve filed for eviction. As much as making a deal or accepting partial payments might seem easier than going through a lengthy eviction process, look at the bigger picture. It’s better to do away with a problematic tenant, however costly and time-consuming an eviction can be.

Put This Landlord Advice to Use

There are steps you can take to get the best tenants, but some of them will become late rent payers. Knowing how to deal with a tenant who hasn’t paid their rent is key to being a successful rental investor. Put this landlord advice to ensure you’re dealing with them in the right way.

We’ve got more advice on our blog, so keep reading!