Step One: Set up clear expectations with tenants to minimize the probability of late payments. Landlords may consider sending advance reminders to their tenants a few days before the rent is due. Charging late fees is also an option for landlords, but only if they have already created a stipulation in the rental agreement. This stipulation should clearly demand an additional fee of a set amount if rent is not paid by a certain time.
Step Two: If the tenant fails to pay their rent on time, remind him or her of the past-due rent. Landlords can give tenants a Late Rent Notice to prompt them to pay this delinquent rent within a certain time period. The Late Rent Notice needs to be signed by the landlord or the landlord’s employee or representative. There are multiple reasons tenants fall behind on rent:
- If the payment is late because the tenant’s check didn’t go through, notify the tenant immediately. In many cases, you can get your bank to run the check through again, or the tenant can write you a new check.
- If the payment is late because the tenant is having financial issues, talk to the tenant immediately, and determine the best course of action. In most cases, tenants will make an effort to make up for their rent, but it’s up to the landlord to accept these efforts or not.
- If the payment is late because the tenant refuses to pay rent, contact the tenant immediately to find out why. In most cases, tenants refuse to pay rent because of a maintenance issue. Landlords may want to look into local laws about rent withholding in order to figure out the next steps. It’s usually possible to work out a simple agreement to satisfy all parties, for example, if the landlord makes the repairs, the tenant pays the rent.
Step Three: If the tenant still does not pay the rent they owe, the landlord may have grounds to start the process of eviction. The procedures for evicting a tenant vary from state to state and even between cities, so it’s important to check local landlord/tenant laws before beginning an eviction action.
Landlords should remember to keep good records of all of their interactions with tenants, including letters and notices, notes about phone calls, and records of rent payments.