Maybe you saw it coming. Maybe you're a bit surprised. Regardless, if your tenant stops paying rent, it's critical that you take the right steps at the right time.
While there is no right or wrong approach to this potentially complex issue, there are some basic steps you can take in an attempt to get back on track. Here's what you should do:
- Reach out to your tenant: Rather than go into attack mode, reach out to your tenant to learn more about their situation and what comes next. You may find that there was a simple error, such as a mix-up with the manner in which they paid. Give your tenant the chance to talk things out.
- Send a formal notice: If reaching out to your tenant gets you nowhere, it's time to move to the next level. Send them a formal notice that tells them their rent is due and they have X number of days to pay before you take action.
- File an eviction action: It's the last resort, but it may be something you need to do if your tenant is unresponsive. You don't want to go down this path too quickly, as it will cost you both time and money. So, before you do this, give your tenant every chance possible to pay what they owe.
- Get help: If all else fails, you may want to bring in outside help. For example, an attorney can assist you with the eviction process, thus helping you better understand your legal rights and the steps you can take to protect them.
Don't let one bad experience stop you from being a landlord. If you run into the issue of a tenant that's not paying on time (or at all), look into your options in the future. For instance, hiring a property manager is a good idea, as you put them in charge of managing everything from repairs to payment collection.
You have legal rights as a landlord. If a tenant isn't paying their rent as outlined in the terms and conditions of your lease, don't hesitate to take action.