How to Make Tenants Pay Rent
For many landlords, a strict payment policy of when to apply late charges and when to file for an eviction based on the date of the month is the best policy. Be upfront about this policy with your tenants as they sign the lease so there is no question as to what the expectations are.
Allow For at Least a Small Grace Period
Some employers have very strange payment schedules. Some people are paid weekly, while others are paid on the second and fourth Thursday of the month on a floating schedule. Even with good budgeting, sometimes people make a mistake or an emergency comes up and they just won't have the money for rent by the first of the month... but they could have it by the 4th. If you allow a grace period for the first 5 days to allow tenants to pay without penalty, you'll often have a higher compliance rate.
What happens if you go beyond the five days? A good practice to have is to allow for another five days of leniency, but this time with a late fee attached to the rent. Your late fee may be dictated by local laws, but you don't want to make it unreasonable. Most late fees fall into the range of 5% or 10% on top of the normal monthly rent.
After 10 Days, Be Firm About Filing For an Eviction
There are always specific circumstances that may cause you to change your mind, but for the most part just be consistent in your eviction filing process and file on Day 11 if you haven't come to an agreement or a payment arrangement with the tenant who hasn't paid. Even though it is housing we're talking about, it is still a contractual arrangement that has been made and not paying the rent does break the contract.
Questions to Ask Before Filing an Eviction
There's a few questions to think about asking before you file for the eviction notice if you're concerned about being able to find a new tenant with a better reputation than your current one.
1. Does this tenant have a good track record?
2. Is there any underlying financial situation that will make this a continuing problem?
3. Can the rent be caught up right away if given a little extra time?
4. Was any effort made by the tenant to communicate?
Ultimately what a landlord does is up to them and each has their own personal philosophies for finding ways to get their tenants to pay the rent. The main goal is to maximize the returns you're getting with your rental property, so sometimes that might mean an eviction... and sometimes that might mean finding a creative solution that works for everyone.
The landlord/tenant relationship is a carefully balanced one that always will have ups and downs. The bottom line is this: if you work with your tenants and let them know your expectations, you'll have an easier time getting your tenants to pay consistently.
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