What to do when you can't contact a tenant

by Gary Whittaker

Whether a tenant has been given notice, needs to agree to a date of an inspection or is late with their rent, not getting a response to your calls, emails or texts can be incredibly frustrating and may well set alarm bells ringing. 

While not all tenants will get back to you straight away, many may well do a disappearing act when you need something from them rather than just meet a problem head on, which can make your job much harder to do. 

You might find that some tenants do this regularly while it is the first time for others, but not getting any response can cause problems, especially if money is owed or you need the property vacated.

More often than not, there is a simple reason for lack of communication, ranging from genuine issues with phones to trying to get the money owed together before they contact you. However, you can't let matters lie as this can cause more problems in the long-run.

With this in mind, here's what to do if your tenant doesn't get back to you:

Give them 48 hours

Generally, it's a good idea to give a tenant 48 hours to get back to you rather than hounding them repeatedly in a short space of time. They may have something going on preventing them from calling you, so to start with, you should give them the benefit of the doubt. If something is urgent, such as missed rent, this can be reduced to 24 hours.

Be sure to keep a record of all call attempts in case the situation needs to go further.

Contact them in different ways

If you have called a tenant but got not answer or no reply to your message, it is a good idea to contact them using an alternative method so there is less chance of them missing it completely. Send an email to let them know that you called, what it was about and asking them to call or email you as soon as possible. 

This can be done following your initial call, but then you should ensure to give them some time to respond afterwards. While you want to get their attention, they are less likely to respond if they feel they are being harassed by your attempts at communication.

Send them a letter

If you are still failing to get hold of your tenant after several calls and emails, send them a letter detailing what it is they are required to do and why you are contacting them. You should be sure to keep a copy of your letter for your records. 

It is also a good idea to send it by recorded delivery so you are able to track its progress and ensure it has been delivered. You should repeat this process if you still haven't had a response in 14 days, detailing what can happen next if they fail to contact you.

Check with the landlord

After all of this, if you still haven't had any response, it is a good idea to apprise the landlord of the situation and see what they want to do next. Talk them through their options regarding starting the eviction process and make recommendations based on the tenant's past behaviour.

At no point should you or the landlord attempt to enter the property, although, if you do begin eviction proceedings, you will need to tape a notice to the front door for the tenant. This will allow you to check whether they are still living at the property or if there is a health and safety issue that requires you to gain entry.

Don't take it personally

Dealing with tenants who are failing to respond to you is not a personal slight and so you should try not to get frustrated. Remain professional at all times, keep records of every attempt to contact them and ensure you do everything by the book.

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31-March-17Legal News