In a perfect world, you have tenants that always pay rent on time and you never have to call or bother them to collect. Ever. Ideally.
Well, this is not a perfect world and in reality, tenants can be late on rent for a multitude of reasons. As the property manager, you are forced to deal with it.
Everyone experiences financial hardships at times. As property managers, we understand tenant money troubles and if they are unable to pay the rent. Life happens. We get that.
But — if you simply can’t afford the cost of rent and it’s always a problem making the payment, move out so someone that can pay the rent can move in! Sounds like a simple enough statement, yet property managers deal with this issue all the time.
As a property manager, the behavioral and emotional issues of residents who have a hard time paying rent, yet don’t move out, can cause excessive stress. Not to mention the financial strain this creates for the property owner.
To top it off, oftentimes residents that have difficulty paying rent will unload an emotional heap of drama and personal problems on the property manager. They may exhibit unpredictable behaviors to dodge the issue of rent or damage the property out of spite when they do eventually move out.
Let’s look at some of the different scenarios involving non-paying tenants, and what you as a property manager can do about it!
The Tenant that is Always Late But Eventually Makes the Rent
You have one tenant in particular that always has difficulty coming up with the rent. One month she is behind, the next month she pays in installments, and so on.
Now, this month, the rent is three weeks late. Because she has not contacted you with any explanation as to when you will get the rent money, you have no choice but to contact her and find out what is going on. So it begins.
Calling the tenant is always the first step you take in an attempt to collect the rent. So you call her phone. No answer. You leave a message. She doesn’t return your call. A couple of days go by. You attempt to contact her by phone a handful of times during those days, but your efforts have been unsuccessful. Now, you must take the next step in an effort to collect the rent – you have to make a house call. You show up at the property. You ring the bell. No answer.
You’re not surprised. This has become a typical pattern with this particular tenant. Unfortunately, because the tenant eventually pays the monthly rent after quite a bit of hassle, time, and frustration – you cannot evict her according to her contract just for being late. As the property manager, this puts you in a frustrating position, literally, every single month.
To collect rent from a tenant that is late, it’s important to refer back to the original property contract to evaluate if and how much of a late fee is applicable. In this particular contract, there is no late charge and because it was not a provision in the original contract, legally you cannot charge one later. Lack of consequence might account as to why this tenant is always late!
A week after you stopped by the residence, you receive a call from the tenant. She stops by to pay the rent and delivers an explanation why she is so far behind. She becomes quite emotional during your conversation and describes a dramatic tale of unfortunate mishaps that left her unable to pay on time. As a human being, you can’t help but empathize with the woman. She reassures you that next month the situation will not happen again.
You take a sigh of relief. Then, you stop and think to yourself, “Oh no, rent is due again in just another week!” So, the saga continues.
The Missing in Action Tenant that’s Months Behind on Rent
Meanwhile, at another property you manage on behalf of a client, there is a tenant that is more than just a little late on rent. Much more. In fact, it has been nearly three months since you have received rent from this particular tenant.
You have already attempted to communicate with this tenant on multiple occasions without any success. Numerous phone calls and home visits have failed to make any contact with the tenant. According to the lease, the tenant can be evicted if behind on rent by two months, so you are now taking the necessary steps to evict the resident.
Always abide by all state regulations and terms of the original lease when it comes to eviction. The first step is to provide the tenant with adequate notice that provides time for them to vacate the premises according to the law (standard at least 42 days). Your dilemma? How do you issue a notice to someone you are unable to get in touch with?
You decide to drive over to the property and take your chances. Miraculously, the tenant is home! You take a deep breath. You go to the door, not knowing what to expect. You knock. You wait.
Nothing. You knock again. Then it happens. The tenant opens the door. Angrily, the tenant wants to know what you want! Always use a calm tone of voice when communicating with the tenant.
You ask them, “Hit there, I am here to collect the rent. Do you have the rent from the last two months? I also wanted to let you know that rent will be due again in a couple of days.” The leaseholder responds, “No, I don’t. I am waiting on a check and I am not sure when I will have it. You’re just going to have to wait!”
You take in another deep breath. You gently explain that you are terribly sorry, however, according to the agreement in the lease, you are going to have to ask the tenant to move out. You follow up this statement by handing them the written eviction notice.
The tenant flips out. The reaction takes you by surprise. Screaming. Cursing. Everything built up inside of this tenant is thrown at you full force. When the storm calmed, the tenant remarked, “good luck getting me out of here.”
As you expected, the tenant waited for the full length of the allotted period, but eventually, the tenant did vacate the premises. Phew. Of course, there will be legal action taken to address the past due rent – but that is another story!
Work More Efficiently to Cut Out Stress
Take some of the stress off your shoulders. Between dealing with non-paying tenants and other typical complaints or mishaps, your job is hard enough.
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