When your tenant doesn't pay their rent on time, it is necessary to take legal actions immediately to begin the potential eviction process.
The first step in that process is the writing of a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit.
This notice gives a tenant 72 hours to cure their past due rent and any late fees that have accumulated from their failure to pay.
There are three questions that are absolutely necessary to examine before sending out this letter.
1. Does the lease allow for a grace period that has not fully expired?
2. Has the tenant paid rent late in the past that has been accepted without a notice?
3. Would it be financially beneficial to you to send the notice out? These questions are necessary because they may affect the legality of the notice itself. If you have a grace period that has not expired, then the rent is not considered late. You can say that rent is due on the 1st of the month, but if the lease has a grace period that lasts until the 5th of the month, then rent isn't considered late until 12:01am on the 6th of the month.
If the tenant has a history of paying rent late every month and you've accepted this before, then you have established a pattern of acceptable behavior.
You may need to wait until the last day you've accepted rent in the past to then send out the 3 day notice.
Sometimes it may be financially wise to speak with your tenants before sending this notice out.
Long-term tenants that always pay on time and then suddenly miss one payment usually have some sort of family emergency going on.
They may not have remembered to check-in with you about their rent. A friendly reminder may be all that is necessary to rectify the situation.
If You Have Decided to Write the 3 Day Notice
You will need to include three specific items on your 3 day notice to pay rent or quit to have it be a legal notice in most legal jurisdictions.
1. The date of the notice, accompanied by the date that the rent was due or the grace period ended.
2. The address of the rental property that has past due rent on it and all parties that are listed on the lease.
3. How the tenant can resolve the situation outlined in specific terms, including any late fees that must be paid in order to bring the account current. Many jurisdictions require that you sign this notice and deliver it in a certified or proven way so that a tenant cannot say they did not receive the notice. Many landlords will hand-deliver this notice, but certified mail may be a better option if a suspected eviction is about to occur. If you do not include the proper information, including how to resolve the notice, then it may be considered an illegal notice. This would become an active defense for the tenant and may cause an eviction proceeding to be awarded in favor of the tenant.
What Resolution Process Should Be Included?
You will need to outline all of the various costs that a tenant must pay in order to remain in the unit.
This typically means outstanding rent, late fees, and utility payments that may be owed.
Some landlord-tenant laws will only allow an eviction to occur for past due rent, so make sure that you know what you can and cannot include as a required payment.
If the tenant fulfills their obligation, then it is considered a best practice to give them a document which says that the 3 day notice to pay rent or quit has been rescinded.
If the tenant fails to pay the full amount of their rent, but attempts to pay a portion of it, you may need to be careful about what you choose to accept.
Some jurisdictions see a partial payment acceptance as an indication that you are willing as a landlord to begin a payment arrangement.
You may wish to reject a partial payment in lieu of the full payment if allowed in your area.
The 3 day notice to pay rent or quit is designed to spur a tenant who is past due to become current.
If they do not, then you have further proof for a valid eviction should the 72 hour deadline expire without money being received.
Nobody really wants to go through an eviction, but sometimes it is necessary.
This notice, when properly written, will make that process easier for you to receive a positive outcome.
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