Every Hampton Roads landlord who has ever rented out a property worries that their tenants may one day stop paying rent. We understand this, and we want to help you reduce that risk.
To effectively earn money and have a pleasant and stress-free rental experience, you need to know that your rent will come in on time. It’s an excellent reason to have a strict screening process in place and to use a Hampton Roads property management company to screen your tenants, lease your home, and collect your rent.
When a tenant stops paying rent, don’t panic, and don’t head straight to eviction court. There are some steps you can take to try and get your rent collected as soon as possible. Eviction should always be a last resort, but an action you’re willing to take.
Set Rent Collection Policies and Expectations in the Lease Agreement
You’ll need to let your tenants know what your expectations are before they even move in.
Talk about when rent is due, how you expect it to be paid, and what the consequences are if it’s paid late. All of this should also be documented in the lease agreement. When you offer your tenants a variety of ways to pay rent, you’re more likely to get it in on time. Offer online or electronic rental payments, let them know if you have a grace period, and explain how the late fees work if rent isn’t paid on the day that it’s due.
Communicate Openly and Transparently
When tenants are late with rent, they tend to avoid their landlords. Make sure you create a relationship where they’re willing to talk to you. If rent is going to be late, you’re better off hearing about it before the first of the month. All late fees should still apply, but you want your tenants to feel comfortable communicating with you if there’s a problem.
Reach out to your tenant if the rent is late and try and find out what the problem is. Be professional and kind. Usually, you can rectify the issue, especially if it’s an otherwise good tenant. If the rent is going to be late, set a date for the rent to be paid.
Serve a Five Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
When your tenants choose to avoid you rather than communicate with you or they don’t pay on the day that they promised they would, you’ll want to serve a Five Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This is a formal indication that rent is late and needs to be paid. Your tenants will have five days to come up with the amount that’s owed or leave the property.
If the five days come and go and you have not received rent and they have not moved out of the property, your final step may be to evict that tenant. You’ll have to file a lawsuit in court.
With the COVID pandemic an active and ongoing emergency, there’s still a moratorium on evictions in place for tenants who are suffering financially due to the virus. You may not be able to evict right away. This makes it even more important for you to reach out to your tenants, come to an understanding, and try to collect what you can. A payment arrangement or agreement can help you collect something while your tenants struggle to recover.
If you’d like some help with rent, please contact us at Doud Realty Services. We’d be happy to serve as your Hampton Roads property management resource.