The last thing you want to deal with as a landlord are late-paying tenants. No landlord in Richmond wants to have to chase down their tenants each month, asking them to pay what’s due and owing for rent.
The best way to handle late-paying tenants is to prevent it from happening in the first place. How is this possible, though?
Train your tenants to pay on time by incorporating these property management strategies that encourage good payment habits:
You must assert your authority while still maintaining your friendliness with tenants. You can achieve this through clearly communicating your expectations to your tenants.
While your lease agreement should state all of your expectations, your tenants may understand them better if told in person. So, when they first move in, let them know the rules of living there, including when rent is due.
It’s of the utmost important to be clear and concise when giving information about when and how you would like the rent to be paid each month. It may also be helpful to reiterate your expectations in an email so your tenants can refer back to it over the course of their lease.
Make paying rent as convenient as possible. Nowadays, the easiest way to collect rent is with online payments.
It’s fairly easy to set up, and you’ll have records of when and how much your tenants paid their rent to you. This information is crucial when filing your taxes and completing the bookkeeping for your business.
Enforce a Late Fee
It is common courtesy to give your tenants a grace period, though. Usually, landlords will allow four or five days after the first of the month (or whenever the rent is due) for some leniency.
However, after this grace period ends, you may enforce a late fee on your late-paying tenants. The only issue with this method is that you then have to chase them down for the late fee as well as the rent.
Incentivize Early Payments
What if your tenants actually paid their rent early? That would be a rare occasion for most landlords. However, you can actually encourage this habit by giving incentives to your tenants.
An incentive for paying their rent early could be a discount on one month’s rent if the tenants pay early for three months in a row. Or you could simply show your appreciation by bringing them a gift basket or gift card to their favorite café.
Enforcing a late fee and rewarding early payments simultaneously could actually get your tenants to pay their rent on time, according to science.
Ask Why Rent is Late
Sometimes you just have to ask them why their rent is late for the second month in a row.
While you don’t have to accept any crazy sob stories from your tenants, it’s important to still show some empathy when possible. Depending on the situation, maybe the two of you can work something out so that they can pay rent on time for the rest of the lease’s duration.
Screen Tenants First
The best thing you can do to prevent your tenants from paying their rent late is to screen them before they sign a lease.
A thorough tenant screening usually includes a background and credit check, income statements or pay slips, and interviewing references such as previous landlords. These will all give you a better idea of whether or not the tenant is a good fit for you.
If speaking to a prospective tenant’s previous landlord, ask if they had any issues collecting rent from them. When reviewing the tenant’s finances and income, ensure they aren’t spending more than 30% of their paycheck on the rent. If it’s more, it could cause issues later on.
You can also send your tenants friendly reminders that their rent is due a few days beforehand. This can be in the form of a text or email. Calls aren’t necessary.
This could be seen as passive-aggressive by some tenants, so you may want to ask them if they would appreciate a reminder each month when they first move in. Some people are aware that they could use the help.
- Offer Multiple Payment Options
A little flexibility can go a long way in encouraging tenants to pay on time. Many will prefer online or automated methods of payment, so check with your bank or payment providers to understand the options. Requiring cumbersome methods of payment, like cash or money orders, can slow the rent payment process for tenants who have a difficult time getting to the bank or grocery store in time.
While multiple options are a good thing, some electronic payment methods, like PayPal, give tenants control over when payments are deducted. The point of automated payments is for the landlord to receive the money at a predetermined time.
Not only does staying consistent prevent repeat problems with late rent payments, it helps to preserve your reputation as a rental property owner and as always, will help you defend your actions should you end up in a legal battle with a tenant over late payments, late fees, or even non-payment of rent.
The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.