What to do in Case of a Late Rent Payment
Late payments are a constant in Property Management. There are a couple of things you can do upfront to avoid late rent payments from your tenants. The most important thing you need is a late rent fee policy. This late fee should be uncomfortable but not totally unreasonable. If the dollar amount is too high, a judge will ultimately throw it out in court. Most property management companies don’t want to make it too easy for tenants to pay rent late. At one point, we started with a very low late fee and then raised the dollar amount with each day the rent was late. We found a lot of tenants continued to be one or two days late with their rent because they knew how many days they could afford to be late. We changed the policy to make the late fee high enough that our tenants have an incentive to pay the rent on time. We have also shortened the amount of time that late rents accrue, so even being one day late has become more expensive.
Have a Collections Policy
You also need to adopt a sound collections policy. You can call someone about the late rent, but that does not always work because people will purposely avoid your phone calls when they know you are calling about late rent. Our process starts with a phone call and then follows up with an email. The email escalates in its urgency and wording. The first email might be a nice reminder that rent is due and we have not received it yet. Then, we get more serious and remind the tenants that the rent needs to be paid or there will be repercussions.
Give a 3 Day Notice
It is always possible to issue a 3 Day Notice. We like to give the tenants the chance to bring in rent, but we don’t want to give them so much time that they live in the property for free while we begin the process of filing a 3 Day Notice. Sending the notice to tenants will often get their attention. Even if they do not understand the full legal requirements of the 3 Day Notice, they tend to get scared and bring in their rent.
Finally, we always keep track of the reasons we get for late rent. This helps us notice repeat offenders and the excuses they make. Our accounting department tracks all of this information, and we have found the same tenants are paying late again and again. Reasons are usually the same as well, so by tracking this information we can politely explain to the tenant that certain issues seem to be preventing the timely payment of rent more than once. It works for us and it helps us ensure our property owners are not taken advantage of.
If you have any further questions on how to avoid late rent payments, please contact us, and we’d be happy to talk to you about them.
Post provided by Management 1 Tri-Cities Property Management