Most tenants are pretty reliable when it comes to paying the rent on time.
There are a few tenants who might push the deadlines from time to time, but they get the money there.
Then there are a few tenants who pay their rent in bits and pieces as the money comes in.
You might get $100 here, $50 there, and a bag of quarters because they're using their laundry money in an emergency.
In situations like this, bookkeeping can become a nightmare.
That may be the goal of the tenant who pays periodically instead of in one lump sum.
By making the landlord keep track of how much rent has actually been paid, they are taking advantage of those who don't keep accurate books.
In the short-term, it means that a tenant can save money on their rent. In the long-term, however, a lease is a contract that covers an entire year. If you discover that you haven't been paid the right amount of past rent, then here's what you can do.
A Past Rent Due Notice Is a Collection Letter With a Twist
The first feelings that come to mind with the discovery of past rent that is due is invariably frustration.
Once those feelings begin to subside, you're ready to take action.
Even if you discover rent is 8 months past due, you can collect on it.
The first step is to write a notice to the tenant to inform them that the rent is missing.
It can be short and simple, but needs to be formatted as a business letter because it counts as an official notice of breech.
Your letter can be as simple as this. In a review of your account, it was discovered that in May 2014, rental payments for the rental property located at 123 Main Street were incomplete. Instead of $1,000, a total amount of $725 was received. Please remit the past due amount of $275 immediately by [Set Date].
Landlord/Tenant laws are different in every jurisdiction, so what you can or cannot do with this notice will depend on those laws.
Some allow for landlords to charge reasonable interest on the past due amount.
Others allow for eviction procedures to be started with the delivery of a notice like this.
The bottom line is this: landlords don't have to just eat the costs of missing rent.
Is An Eviction Really Necessary?
Although missing some past rent can be financially problematic, it doesn't automatically mean that a landlord should immediately start an eviction process.
Many tenants will simply cough up the money because they know that it is owed.
Sometimes mental mistakes happen while paying the bills and a long-time tenant might write the wrong amount on the check.
If you've had a tenant that has been stable and consistent, then the notice above should be sufficient to secure the missing money.
Any time past rent that is due is found to be missing, the entire history of payments for that tenant should be closely examined.
Sending a past rent due notice is relatively simple.
Make sure to have documented proof of delivery in some form, quickly follow-up on this notice if payment is not received, and more often than not you'll get the rent you need.
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