5,172,000 households in the USA are behind on rent, reports the National Equity Atlas. A tough couple of years has left many people in arrears. But as a landlord, your rent collection is vital to your livelihood.
Tough as it may be, you need a plan of action for when a tenant fails to pay rent. So what can you do?
Missing rent sparks images of eviction notices and the stress of finding a new tenant. While this is an option if things get worse, there are steps you can take first.
But where do you start?
We have a guide to help you. Read on for your rent collection tips.
Double-Check Your Lease and Rent Collection Records
Before you go any further with collecting rent, take the time to check you are right. Can you confirm the tenant is missing rent?
Check your lease to find out what constitutes missing rent; your lease may have a grace period. This is the amount of time you must wait before marking the rent as late.
You should also check your state laws about grace periods. In Virginia, for example, you must wait 5 days before issuing a late rent notice.
Issue a Late Rent Notice
Your late rent notice must have the rent amount, the date due, late fees as per your lease, and the deadline. You can give this to the tenant in person, by email, or put it on their door.
Keep a copy for your records, along with the date you gave it to the tenant. This acts as evidence if the case goes to court.
Give the Tenant a Call
Call your tenant once about the missing rent or receipt of the late rent notice. You can also ask if they have any problems with the rent, but this is at your discretion.
Always abide by your state's landlord-tenant laws.
Issue a Pay or Quit Notice
This is the first step in the eviction process. With luck, you can resolve the issue without eviction, but this notice shows your intent.
Deliver this to the tenant in person after the late rent grace period. Be clear that you will evict them if they fail to pay by the deadline.
The pay or quit deadline varies by state. So check your local housing laws to be sure. When this deadline passes, you can process your eviction papers.
Prepare to Take Legal Action
Hire a lawyer and file a tenant-landlord complaint with your local court.
You need to wait until the court concludes the case. It is a crime to lock the tenant out, move possessions, or cut off utilities during this time.
Keep your documents in order. Wait for the court to take action. Then move on to finding a more reliable tenant.
Make Your Property Easier to Manage
We hope our guide helped your rent collection go smoothly. Remember these steps and think about what is best for your business.
Our Renters Warehouse team has helped our clients manage their properties since 2007. Based in southeastern Virginia, we are licensed experts in all things real estate.
We specialize in tenant placement, rent collection, taxes, maintenance, and much more. Our testimonials speak for us.