What to do with tenants who don't pay rent

by Gary Whittaker

Landlords and letting agents will all have to deal with it sometimes: a tenant that won't pay their rent. This is an unfortunate situation that nobody wants to be in. However, no matter how unpleasant you find it, it is important for you to manage it well. Failure to do so could leave you in more trouble than it's worth.

So what should you do the next time a tenant starts paying late, or not at all ' Here are some of the options available to you, so you don't have to immediately resort to evicting them, with the long and complicated process that entails.


Get in contact straight away

The last thing you want to do is leave the situation and hope it resolves itself. As soon as a payment is missed, you need to get in contact with the tenant via phone or in person if possible. A letter or email is a good idea so you have something in writing, but due to the delay between these being sent and actually read, it is generally better to also visit or call.

The main reason to do this is to ensure the situation doesn't escalate. If you are lax with your contact, your tenants might feel like they can pay their rent late with no repercussions. If you leave it too late, you might even find that they miss two payments or even more, which is the last thing you want.

The longer your tenants miss their rent, the harder it will be for them to pay the amount they have in arrears. To prevent this, get in touch as soon as possible and keep checking up until the situation has been sorted.


Offer them an alternative

Before jumping to conclusions about your missed rent, it is worth considering the reasons your tenant might have for not paying. You could even set up a meeting with them to talk it through. This is useful, because it might turn out that you can come to an agreement with them that will enable you to collect their rent.

For example, maybe they get paid on the first day of each month, while you take your rent on the last day. They might struggle to pay you the day before payday, especially if they run into unexpected costs during the month. If this is the case, you could simply change the day you collect rent and potentially solve the problem.

Other options include collecting rent on a fortnightly basis, as paying a smaller amount more frequently might be more convenient for them. Talking to your tenants might reveal solutions to problems you didn't realise existed.


Don't be afraid to evict

Eviction can be a huge hassle, but unfortunately it's the best bargaining chip you have in these discussions. If you have a tenant who simply will not pay, you need to start the procedure for eviction without hesitation.

It's important to remember that you don't actually have to go through the whole process in order to have the desired effect. Make sure your tenant knows that you will call off the eviction if they pay what is owed. This can be win-win, as your tenant will hopefully know that you're serious and not miss a payment again, and you won't have to go through a lengthy and costly eviction.

However, even if you call it off, make sure you still serve the relevant possession notices. You won't use them at this point, but it saves time in the event that the tenant goes back to not paying their rent; with the added bonus that it should show that they're on thin ice, meaning they'll be more likely to behave.

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28-September-17Property Management