When a tenant doesn’t pay rent, they put you in an uncomfortable position. Your first instinct is to be sympathetic if they’re having money trouble or experiencing hardship. But, ultimately, it’s still your right to enforce the lease and collect rent.
You’re upholding your end of the deal, which is providing quality housing. They need to figure out how to uphold their part of the deal – paying you on time.
Confront Late Rent Right Away
When a tenant doesn’t pay on time, immediately set the precedent that you don’t tolerate late rent. Residents follow your lead. If you allow them a few extra days to get rent in without any repercussions, they’ll expect to get away with it in the future. It’s tough to change late paying behavior once it has become a habit.
Send a letter to acknowledge their late rent and let them know you plan to pursue legal action to enforce lease terms. For our tenants, rent is due on the 1st of the month and late on the 4th. If the 4th rolls around and we haven’t collected rent yet, we send a certified letter and an email.
The letter is a 3-day notice to vacate, which tells them we’ll swiftly terminate the lease and pursue eviction if they don’t pay up.
Charge a Late Fee and File for Eviction
We also charge a late fee, no exceptions. In Texas, we’re allowed to allocate rent payments to non-rent charges first. Even if a tenant refuses to pay the late fee, we apply their next payment to fees first, which leaves an unpaid rent balance.
This practice puts us in a better position if we have to go to court. Rent is easier to collect through legal action than non-rent related fees.
We also file for eviction and we won’t cancel the filing until money is in hand. When residents know there are major repercussions for not paying rent, they make it a top priority.
The Secret to Collecting Rent Easier
Never get personally involved with your tenants. It makes conversations about money uncomfortable. Plus, it’s easier for tenants to tug at your heartstrings.
Residents give creative excuses for paying rent late, like running out of checks. Many of these tactics are used to buy time. Don’t stop asking for the money or filing eviction paperwork until you have received the payment.
You’ll be surprised how quickly people can come up with money when they understand you take it seriously.
Two Ways to Guarantee Rent Gets Paid on Time
The best way to avoid late rent is looking for qualified tenants. Don’t get excited to lease your rental to just anyone. Chasing someone for rent through the year is more of a hassle than investing the time up front to screen proper residents.
Another way to avoid late rent is hiring a property manager. The advantage of having a property manager is renters know it’s harder to get over on us. We keep the transaction strictly business, so they’re aware the typical excuses for not paying rent won’t work.
If you’re stuck with chronically late-paying tenants, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation.