My Tenant Won’t Pay — What Do I Do?
Real Estate Blog
My Tenant Won’t Pay — What Do I Do?
Owning a rental property can come with lots of headaches, but collecting rent on time from your tenants doesn’t have to be one of them, as long as you follow the tips below and are prepared to be patient with the process.
Working with Legacy Property Management
At Legacy Property Management, we do everything we can to ensure a smooth tenant-owner relationship, including being local, having excellent communication plans in place, competitive pricing, and being trustworthy and reliable. While it’s important to have these traits in your property management company, it’s equally important to have them in your tenants. Everyone’s needs are different and we work hard to provide customized services to tenants and property managers alike to create a smooth transition for all involved.
Know that it’s important to build relationships with your tenants, especially if you want them to stick around for the long haul. Be willing to go above and beyond, particularly for your best tenants.
Below, we’ve provided a few tips to help you out when your tenant won’t pay their rent.
Outline Your Expectations
Be sure your contract very clearly outlines your expectations. Be sure your tenant is clear on what they’re signing; you don’t want to make it so they can come back to you in a few months and say there was nothing in the contract about late rent.
Have an attorney read through your contact to ensure you have all the proper legal jargon, but that it’s still easy for a tenant to understand.
Be Willing to Provide Accommodations
Decide where you want to provide accommodations in the contract. You don’t want tenant turnover to be expensive. For instance, do you have a tenant who has been a dream to work with, always pays their rent on time, keeps the property in excellent shape, but came up short one month due to job loss or illness or another extenuating circumstance?
Maybe you have a clause in the contract that allows for delayed rent with proof from their former job or a doctor that this is a rare occurrence.
Of course, you also want to be careful about making too many allowances because other tenants may find out and start to find excuses to not pay their rent on time, knowing they could claim job loss or a medical emergency as a reason, whether it’s true or not.
Work to build relationships with your tenants from the moment they move in — it’s harder to replace a bad tenant than it is to keep a good one. It’s also important to consider the impact that tenant is going to have on the community and property managers are encouraged to consider that when deciding who to lease to.
Have Clear Communication Methods
Be sure the property management company has clearly communicated these points with the tenant. This really goes back to the first point about making sure the contract is clear from day one.
If you make the rules clear, the tenant should have no question about their qualifications for living in the rental property. However, it’s wise to provide tenants with a place to go if they do have questions or run into trouble.
Know Your Rights, as a Landlord
Know what the local ordinances are for tenant rights. A quick Google search and/or speaking with a licensed professional attorney can lead you to the ordinances for your state, city, and county. Knowing your rights as well as your tenants’ rights will be important in case you have to go through the eviction process or go to court at some point.
Learning Tenant Rights
In California, the Department of Consumer Affairs publishes an online guide for landlords and tenants, outlining in detail, what each person’s rights are when it comes to property management and related issues, including defining the difference between a landlord and a tenant, dealing with problems, eviction rights, and more.
Getting Legal Assistance
Finally, if none of these thing work, call your attorney and/or property manager to begin the eviction process. Be sure to research what that process is for where you live — it may vary widely from state to city to county or be different depending on why you’re evicting a tenant (in this case, neglecting to pay rent on time).
Be sure to check back soon for our next blog, where we will address the eviction process in more depth.
Written for [Legacy Property Management of Silicon Valley]