No matter how much property you own as a landlord, you will be dealing with people, and often a lot of them. Because of this, you’re bound to run into people that don’t conduct themselves as they should, but what happens when that person is your tenant? Dealing with someone that refuses to pay rent can be a landlord’s worst nightmare, but you have options. Learn what to do when a tenant stops paying rent and won’t leave your property.
Go Through the Necessary First Steps
Before jumping to a severe course of action, you may want to try and take the time to figure out why they’re not paying rent. For many renters, not getting their rent paid on time isn’t on purpose and is due to financial, health, familial, or other life issues. As a landlord, it’s good to have compassion for life’s circumstances and hurdles, and proper communication with your tenants can help bring you an understanding of each other’s circumstances. However, things can quickly become argumentative regarding money, so it may be prudent to conduct this conversation over the phone or in a public space.
Serve Them a Pay or Quit Notice
If you’ve had a conversation with your tenant, they’ve gone past your grace period, haven’t acted on your late rent notice, and they’re still not paying, it’s time to take action. At this point, you should consider sending the tenant a pay or quit notice. A pay or quit notice states that the tenant broke the lease agreement and notifies them that they must pay or leave before you start the eviction process. Typically, this period is three to five days, and the notice should include your intent to evict and how much the tenant needs to pay, including the late fee.
Try the Cash for Keys Tactic
Cash for keys allows you to make a deal with the tenant, negotiating a payment in exchange for the tenant to leave the property. However, this is a slippery slope; if you’re not good at negotiating, you can quickly end up forking over a lot of cash. This method can also end up shooting you in the foot if you don’t get the agreement in writing, have proof of transaction, and don’t conduct a final walkthrough. However, evictions can be expensive, sometimes costing landlords thousands of dollars, so negotiating may be a cheaper option in the long run.
If All Else Fails, Begin the Eviction Process
If none of these tactics prove fruitful, it’s time to start working on eviction proceedings. Unfortunately, the eviction process varies from state to state, so it’s essential to look into your local eviction laws. However, you’ll likely need an attorney to help prepare you for the process, especially if you don’t know the state and local laws.
Knowing your rights as a landlord and what to do when a tenant stops paying rent and won’t leave is a critical step in becoming an overall more professional landlord.