Non Paying Tenant in CA

5 Replies

Hello, 

I have a a tenant that has been getting worse and worse about paying the rent. They have paid mid moth the last 2-3 months. I texted him yesterday and he did not respond. 

I checked my rental account today and it looks like he put in $700 of the Month $965 rent for the month of Jan. 

I want to remain on good terms with the tenant and not blow my cool because I dont want them to cause more interior costs... 

I also know I should probably file a 3 day pay or quit notice... What is the proper way to do this? 

I believe he has a puppy in there as well.. He has not paid a pet deposit and in the lease I wrote no pets allowed unless a pet and deposit is agreed upon

Thanks 

Hi Brandon,

  sounds like you have professional tenant, I believer law in CA is your can't accept rent pay if you plan to evict him, 3 day pay/quit should accuratly shows what he owes plus  late fee if it's in the lease.   I would consult local real estate or eviction attorney in your area. 

Hi AJ, 

I have heard about that.. I wouldn't have personally accepted it. He just put it into my account. 

I was hoping the 3 day notice is a simpler process

Originally posted by @Brandon Pearsons:

Hello, 

I checked my rental account today and it looks like he put in $700 of the Month $965 rent for the month of Jan. 

I want to remain on good terms with the tenant and not blow my cool because I dont want them to cause more interior costs... 

You can be polite AND enforce the rules. The disadvantage here might be that he has been getting away with this for some time, it will be more difficult to "re train" your tenant at this point...  

I also know I should probably file a 3 day pay or quit notice... What is the proper way to do this? 

You will have a problem... the 3 day notice must reflect the exact unpaid rent balance, if you serve this notice and later deposits $1 in your bank account, your notice is void and you would have to serve new notice.

Depending what your lease/contract says you might be able to close this bank account, then serve the 3 day notice. The issue here is that it could be argued that you have changed the terms of the lease/contract without proper notice...

So, you have a tenant who is a rule breaker. He is not abiding by the terms of your rental agreement both on the non-payment of rent and on having an unauthorized pet. 

Whenever a tenant breaks one of our rental terms, I serve a "Notice to Enter" as soon as possible. When I am in the unit I keep my eye out for other lease violations as well, it is quite likely if breaking one rule, another will be broken as well.  If the tenant has been avoiding me, it allows me to meet with the tenant for a face-to-face.  At that time I go over the terms of the rental agreement and hand them written documents about the rental agreement violations and associated fees. If I don't get the action I need from the tenant, such as compliance with the rental agreement and paying all rent and fees, then I will serve the proper notices for the situation. It might be a "Pay Rent or Quit" and/or a "Notice to Perform" (one for each violation). 

I have a late rent letter that clarifies the amount of rent due now, including the late fee that I charge (ours is $50). I also have a form I use when tenants break rules that lists the charges I will be assessing for breaking rules for which I have a penalty fee (ours is $50 for an unauthorized pet). Often the tenant pays up right away. If they don't, then I serve a legal notice. I charge a $20 posting fee for each legal notice I serve.  

Be sure to keep written documentation of your interactions with the tenant. Be swift, polite, firm and fair.

I agree with a lot of what @Marcia Maynard  said above but would also add that you need to be firm and consistent with imposing your late fees.  You set the tone and establish the structure and they adapt or have to transition out.  Being in the management business for almost 15 years now, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that you as a manager or owner can allow/enable a distressed tenant to dig themselves a hole too deep for them to climb out of...regardless of their best intentions.  You have to go by the terms of the lease and if they get behind or breach the lease, serve the 3 Day Notice, impose the late fee, follow through.  I would be sure to consult with a landlord/tenant attorney as you are serving notices that will serve as a basis of a potential unlawful detainer action.  There are so many ways to screw those up and the law is extremely tenant friendly.  Two examples would be by including late fees in the 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent and also accepting rent after you've filed.  Best of luck.

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.