One of the things you count on as a Healdsburg rental property owner is the tenant’s timely payment of rent. This is part of the landlord/tenant contract: you provide a safe and habitable home, and in exchange for that, your tenant pays the agreed upon rental amount every month.
Hopefully, you have a rigorous tenant screening process in place so you can avoid renting to tenants with a history of late or missing rental payments. Even when you have a qualified, well-screened tenant in place, unexpected things can happen. You need to be prepared with a solid lease, a good rent collection policy, and a consistent process for when tenants are late with their payments.
Check Your Lease Agreement
Everything pertaining to the payment and collection of rent should be included in your lease agreement. The lease should state how much rent is due, when it’s due, and how it should be paid. The lease needs to reflect whether there’s a grace period, and if so, on which day rent is officially considered late. Include information on late fees and other consequences. When you have everything in writing and your tenant understands the expectations, there can be no confusion when it’s time to collect the rent.
Enforce the Late Fees
Always collect the late fees when a tenant is late. Even if your otherwise responsible renter is only one day late – charge the late fee. You have to be consistent, and you have to show your tenants that this is a priority for you, and it needs to be a priority for them. Don’t send mixed signals, and don’t let your emotions make the decisions. You are running a business.
Take the Steps Towards Eviction
You aren’t required to begin eviction proceedings the minute a tenant is late. But, you should get the process moving just in case it gets that far. If your tenants are late paying rent and they aren’t responding to your reminders or your attempts at communication, serve a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This lets the tenants know they have three days to pay the overdue rent or move out of the home. Usually, you’ll receive the rent within those three days. If not, you should move forward and file for the eviction in court. The process can be complex and time consuming, so you must be prepared. Hopefully, the tenant will remedy the situation and pay the rent before it gets to the courts.
Provide Multiple Ways to Pay
At Wine Country Life, we believe that one of the reasons we are able to collect rent on time every month is that we provide tenants with multiple ways to pay rent. They can pay with a check or money order if that works for them, but most of our tenants prefer to pay online. They don’t have to worry about remembering to send in a check, and they can even schedule future and recurring payments. It eliminates a lot of the risk of late or missing payments. It’s convenient, too.
While you might not have the type of software that allows for online payments, you can still invite your tenants to pay rent electronically through bank transfers, credit or debit cards, and online platforms such as PayPal or Apple Pay. Be creative and work with your tenants to do whatever will get that rent payment in on time.
If you have any questions about how to put together a rent collection policy or you’re concerned about a tenant who isn’t paying, please contact us at Healdsburg Property Management. We’d be happy to help.