Tenant refuses to pay rent online

28 Replies

So I have a tenant in a multi family building who insists I come and pick up her money order in person every month. The problem being that the property is a 40 minute drive each way from where I live and every other tenant I have has no problem paying through apartments.com. This tenant is section 8 so the payment I’m going to pick up is less than $200 each month and it seems like a waste of time and gas to collect in this manner. I’ve offered to allow her to pay through PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, or to even mail her money order directly to me but it doesn’t seem like she will.

Has anyone else dealt with this before or have any obvious solutions? Can I charge late fees/evict if she refuses to pay in the manner I prefer if she is still offering cash in person? It seems very tedious to go out of the way for this one tenant who refuses to pay like everyone else. Any advice is appreciated.

Politely and professioanlly remind her who is "boss". It is not your responsibility to collect the money. It is HER responsibility to make sure the money is to you on time. She needs to simply mail the check to you each month on time. If she can't promise you that then notify her caseworker. I have dealt with Section 8 tenants for YEARS and most are actually very grateful to even have a landlord that takes Section 8. 

If she is late with her portion of the rent because YOU did not go pick up the money then it is her fault and let her know that with the moratoriums starting to be lifted, you can and will find another Section 8 tenant very, very quickly to replace her.

Also............do not emphasize to her how difficult it is for you to travel 40 miles to pick up rent money. If you do this she may quickly start putting in "maintenance requests" that are a little on the frivolous side, simply to see you suffer. Personally I love Section 8 tenants and I strongly prefer them,....but the ones like who you are describing are ones that I have no problem getting rid of fast because they are the ones that give the program a bad name.

I can't believe you're doing that. I wouldn't even do it once! It costs less than $1 to send a money order via the mail. Tell her to mail it early enough that it's received by the due date. Another option is to set up a system for her to pay electronically.

If she refuses, give her notice and kick her out. There's absolutely nothing in the law that says you have to drive 40 minutes to pick up a check. Ridiculous.

@Ryan T

I would set up a separate account of a bank near the property. Give her a handful of deposit slips pre-printed with the account number and info and tell her to deposit into this account each month. If she doesn't then send her a 3-day notice and show her you mean business. I would never go meet a tenant to pay me rent. She needs to understand there is a new sheriff in town if you recently bought the property. 

Best of luck

We give tenants two options in our lease. Deposit electronically or deposit in person to our bank. Picking it up is not a reasonable request. If you do not spell it out in the lease, then I would spell it out in the next lease for sure (for everyone). 

The method of payment and where the payment must be delivered to should be in every rental agreement, or lease. If it is not in your lease, then send her a written notice regarding where to send the money and include a statement saying the money must be postmarked no later than the due date. In a high percent of states landlords and tenants don't need a written rental agreement because there are already many written laws that both parties have to adhere to. Put some polite (not threatening) words stating that failure to deliver the rent to the proper location, or failure to mail the payment by the deadline will result in a violation of your demand and/or rental real estate laws and will most-likely result in immediate termination of your Tenancy. Then, when your tenant still refuses to adhere to your policies, you send your tenant a 3-Day Notice To Pay Or Quit, or whatever number of days is required for your area. Send a nice notice with your Notice To Pay Or Quit that explains that all the tenant needs to do to remain in the unit is pay the money that is due and a nice letter helps to reduce the friction.

I am very hard on tenants and evicted many tenants for minor things, but I also shot myself in the foot a few times like when it took me 6 months to find a new tenant and I can't remember what I evicted him for, but it was not something that was serious enough to have to clean, paint and lose 6 months of rent. 

Does your local Section 8 office say you have to collect rent any certain way? If they don't say anything, then you can give a 30 day notice (check with your local attorney) and say "We only will accept rent electronically or in the mail" and she has to do it. In this rental market, I'm sure there are plenty of people that would rent the house...

@Ryan T.

What does the lease say?

My rents are paid before the due date unless I agree to something else. My leases stipulate that funds will be deposited on or before the due date.

One reason I don't pick up rents, is because I want my visits to be about the well being and upkeep of the properties, and not a situation where every time they see my truck, the blinds close and my knocks at the door go unanswered.

I try not to be a bill collector. I remember Bill collectors when I was young.

If I must collect payment, it will be expensive.

A lot of good solutions already mentioned. Here is one to consider if you are willing to work with her. Next time you visit to pick up rent, leave a stack of 12 envelopes that are post marked for your address and already have a stamp. Tell her to use them to mail you the rent. 12 stamps are going to be a lot cheaper than the gas you use driving to pick up rent and not to mention, the time savings. If she can't do that, I would follow some of the other responses with regards to getting her out and new tenants in place. Sounds like she is just being difficult to be difficult. Best of luck! 

I'm a Section 8 specialist, here's what I do and have done in the past.

Notifytenants - we'll no longer pick up rent.  Period.

Here are your options:

1. Mail a money order

2. Pay online through the tenant portal (ACH or debit card)

3. Pay in cash at a Moneygram location (for this option, I set up an account with Schedule My Rent - you can find them online.  Costs $2 per transaction for you, $5 or so for tenant).

Late fees apply per the lease and is based on when we receive the rent (important if they're mailing a MO). 

Reminder texts about unpaid rent go out on the 5th, statement of past due amounts gets emailed to caseworker and tenant on the 20th, evictions are filed on the 1st of the next month if rent is unpaid.

I've never had to file an eviction on a Section 8 tenant with this system.

@Nathan G.

I have the same policy. It would takes days if not weeks for some of us to collect in person if we had to get our rents that way. Everyone has different schedules. She is not respecting your time. Also, I feel it is a safety concern to get rent in person. When you are at the house every month on the 1st as a landlord you may as well paint a target on your back because it is obvious why you are there. Tell her to mail it or pay electronically. If she refuses, file eviction due to non-payment of rent. I am assuming you have the payment method specifically outlined in your lease. I also do upfront damage control when a tenant moves in. I state don't bother renting from me if I am expected to pick up rent on the tenant's schedule.

@Brian Garlington

Remind her who is boss?


No, she is not your employee.

If you feel the need to remind her who the landlord is, I guess that is accurate.

However, she should then remind you who the Tennant is.

Ps. I’m not saying she is right in her Dan and.

But the landlord is not necessarily either.

The “boss” or governing body is the lease.

What does the lease say about payment?

@Ryan T. I’d first get to the root of why she is unwilling to pay online. She likely does not feel ‘tech savvy’ or safe sending her money in.

I’d use empathy to understand her frustration but then gently remind her rent must be paid and find a solution. I’d suggest she mail it or deposit it directly into a bank account you set up local to her.

@Ryan T. Hey Ryan, I've dealt with this before with one of my rentals in Phoenix. Don't push evictions or late fees yet. First try talking out with the tenant first to find out what's going on and what they'd prefer. If that fails, give them a timeline to adjust, if they don't then send them a late fee notice.

@Ryan T.

If this is a section 8 tenant they most likely have a case worker/manager. They are obligated to adhere to

the lease or they lose their assistance. You can reach out to a case manager without making a formal complaint and see if they have any ideas or suggestions on how to deal with that tenant.

I’ve always used section 8 case workers as my POC for any issues or questions I have about what I can/can’t/or maybe should do.

Best of luck!

I totally get why someone might not want to pay online. The danger of getting hacked while dealing with financial stuff is real, and devastating if you are on a fixed budget. Many online services (ie Avail) charge $2-3 per payment. Being forced to pay an extra fee in order to pay rent would be pretty annoying. For what it's worth, at least at this point, Apartments.com doesn't charge a fee unless the tenant pays with a credit or debit card. The landlord is charged if they want the rent "next day" instead of a couple of business days.   If this one tenant will ONLY do MO allow her text a pic of the MO right before she puts it in the mail and accept that text as the "received" time, as long as the postmark matches the text date. No text and it's "received" when it arrives.