Three Legal Tips for Dealing with Tenants Who Don’t Pay

By | March 16, 2012

We’ve all heard of bad landlords – people that seemingly take no interest in their property, are slow to respond to complaints, and generally don’t get around to cashing rent checks until a month and a half after the fact. But few of us think about things from the other end: the perspective of the landlord.

For landlords and property managers, there are definitely such people as bad tenants. Maybe they trash their apartment, constantly skirt rules, always create noise complaints, etc.  But one of the worst things a bad tenant can do is simply not pay their rent because it creates a great degree of hassle and impacts your own income.

You want to make sure you get paid, but you also want to make sure that you go about things the proper, legal way. Here are three tips for dealing with those tenants that don’t pay.

Tip #1: Draft a good contract, or at least review what your current agreement states.

The first thing you need on your side is the power of enforcement – and that’s what potentially comes as a result of the written agreement between you and the tenant. If they are responsible for making a payment and they fail to make good on that promise, then you hypothetically have the power of the law on your side.

It is important to note, however, that just because you have a written arrangement does not mean that the full force of your local justice system will be used to ensure that you receive what’s coming to you. But you do need to make sure that you have a solid legal footing to fall back on if worse comes to worst.

Tip #2: Alert your tenant of the consequences of non-payment.

As soon as you can, make sure that your tenant knows that you’re serious about receiving payment and that you’re willing to quickly enforce the powers you do hold if they don’t make good on their rent soon. You don’t have to do it with any hint of anger or aggression, but it is important that you do it. Otherwise your tenant may think that you are “flexible” regarding the rent date or that you’re somehow willing to accept a late payment.

Don’t let this happen – be on top of things by letting them know you’re aware of the problem right away. You may just find that they respond in kind by paying off their rent as quickly as possible.

Tip #3: Be willing to negotiate.

Admittedly, some people fall on hard times. They might want to pay you rent but simply can’t swing it anymore – in these cases, you’re often better off accepting some sort of settlement from them that you both agree to rather than kicking them out as soon as possible.

The more you’re on top of things, the more your tenants will respect that they can’t afford to waste your time. Be polite but stern; you’ll find that more tenants not only respect you this way…but they will ultimately respect your property too.

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