It’s one of the biggest risks of being a landlord; the time may come when a renter stops paying rent. They may have lost their job or been hit with a major unforeseen expense like car repairs or medical bills. Whatever the reason the tenant cannot pay rent, the landlord is left in an undesirable situation. They must handle it appropriately and within the confines of the law.
Here are five steps landlords can take when faced with a tenant who refuses to pay rent:
1. Communicate with the Tenant
Talking with the tenant and determining exactly what is going on and why they are not able to pay rent is the first step. While financial issues are likely at play, it’s possible that the tenant has other concerns such as issues with the property that require repair. There might also be issues with a subletter who has moved out. Once the crux of the issue has been determined, the landlord can decide on a course of action.
2. Get Clear On State Laws and Regulations
While there are some consistencies, every state is a little different in terms of tenant rights and how landlords must handle tenants who are delinquent on rent payments or simply refuse to pay rent. It is crucial to be clear on the requirements, or landlords can face legal action down the road.
3. Terminating Tenancy
If payment is not forthcoming and eviction is the next course of action, the tenancy will have to be legally terminated. This will require written notice in compliance with state laws, usually in the form of a “pay or quit” notice with state-specified language and deadline. Landlords who are still unclear about the best course of action and how to proceed should consider seeking legal counsel.
4. Evicting a Tenant Who Did Not Pay Rent
If all state laws are followed by the landlord and the tenant still has not paid by the deadline, an unlawful detainer lawsuit can be filed. If the landlord wins, they will receive a judgment for unpaid rent and possession of the property. If the tenant still won’t leave, the landlord cannot forcibly evict them; the authorities must be contacted. The court judgment should be given to a sheriff or marshal to deal with the tenant. EvictionRecords.com offers landlords access to a national eviction records search, criminal records and an SSN identity verification.
5. Handling Abandoned Property
If the tenant leaves any belongings behind after vacating, landlords should check state laws regarding how to handle this. Many states have specific notification and storage procedures that must be followed.
Tenants who become delinquent and do not pay rent are a landlord’s worst nightmare. However, checking every applicant with a professional tenant screening credit reports service can help to ensure that only the most viable and financially responsible renters are chosen.