The best way for landlords to ensure their tenants turn in their rent on time is by giving them clear notice of penalties that will be incurred if their payments are late. Cities and states have legislation about how landlords may deal with late payments, so make sure you understand local rental laws before setting any terms or taking any action. Once you know the local legalities, formulate a policy for dealing with unpaid or late rent and include it in writing in all future leases. Whatever policy you set up, be sure to communicate it clearly in writing and hold to it steadfastly. Renters who see you give way once will likely try to get away with late or partial payments again and again. Plus word will get out of your “good deed.” Worse, your kindness could hurt you in court later.
Tenants may be Charged Late Fees for Late Rent or Bounced Checks
When setting up a late fee policy, landlords need to know how much is appropriate to charge and when late fees can start being applied. As with any landlord-tenant policy, it is important to check local rental codes to find out if there are any limits to the amount a landlord may charge tenants for late payments or bounced checks. Typically, late fee amounts may be anywhere from ten to seventy-five dollars, so just remember to keep it reasonable. Some landlords enforce a daily increase on late fees, so if rent is not turned in by a certain date, the fee will increase every day until it is paid.
Landlords should keep careful records of any late payments made. You may also send a notice to your renters reminding them about late payment penalties and keep a record of the notices you have sent in your tenant files. If someone continually fails to make rent payments on time despite continued notices and late payment fees, an eviction notice may be in order.
Eviction is the Last Resort for a Landlord Seeking Unpaid Rent
Try to avoid taking a tenant to court to resolve late payment issues, as it can be a time-consuming and costly endeavor. If you have a dispute with a renter, you may try involving a local mediator who can help both parties come to some sort of an agreement. Another option is writing a letter to your tenant to inform them that they may leave without owing you any more than the security deposit you already have, provided that they leave the property in good condition.
Eviction Proceedings Can Be Effective
If you have tried everything you can think of within your power and still your tenant delays rent payment, don’t hesitate to start the eviction process. First, send them a notice of your intention to evict them if they don’t pay immediately by registered mail. If you get no response or payment, begin eviction proceedings. A summons will then be sent to your renter. A court date will be set and a judgment will be made. If you win, the tenant will be forced to move out and you can then prepare your property for new renters.
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