Before you reach for the big guns, hire yourself a lawyer and quickly take the cost of collecting late rent to a much higher amount… here are some smaller steps to take beforehand.
- Review the tenant’s lease to verify the payment due date, and late fees if applicable. There might be that rare occasion that the tenant has an addendum that changes there due late and late fees. You’ll want to double-check the legal lease, just in case there was an arrangement set up. If you only manage a few properties, you might already be aware that there isn’t an addendum. It’s just always a good rule to check your documents first.
- Give the tenant a phone call before you serve the late rent notice. The tenant maybe just needs a gentle reminder that they are late. A phone call is an added benefit, because you are speaking to the tenant directly. For this reason, try not to substitute email with a phone call.
- If the tenant still hasn’t made a payment after the due date, serve them a Late Rent Notice. This notice should include all fees that are owing to you (including late fees), and a warning that you will proceed with legal action if the tenant doesn’t pay by the specified date. Keep a copy of the late rent notice for yourself. This will come in handy if things do move forward to court and you can prove that the tenants delinquency was an ongoing pattern.
- If you’ve done the previous suggestions and still haven’t received rent from the tenant, serve them a Pay or Quit This is technically the first step in the eviction process, and serves as a legal notice. It needs to be very clear about your intent to evict the tenant if they do not pay by the specified date. You’ll either deliver the notice directly to the tenant, or post it to the door and take a picture for the records. After posting your notice, you will have to wait a certain time period before you move forward with the eviction process. Check with your State on how long the tenant has to pay you back, before you file eviction papers. It’s usually 3-5 days, depending where you live.
- Now, if the tenant still hasn’t paid by the due date on the Pay or Quit notice, you can move forward with the Eviction process. You can hire an eviction lawyer and file the appropriate documents and complaint in court. A fee is required for you to pay before you will receive a hearing date. Make sure your documents are in order and you have everything that is necessary, so you are prepared when you go to court.
A few things you can do to help avoid late rent:
- Be consistent with your collection policy each month
- Do not accept partial rent payments
- Document everything! If you and the tenant agree on a payment plan, get a signed document that will list the terms that were agreed upon and give the tenant a copy.
- Follow the EXACT rules of your State, and City. Failing to do so, can result in the eviction being delayed or discontinued that month.
*This information is provided as a courtesy and is not to be considered legal advice in any way.
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