Late Rent from tenant

26 Replies

Hello BP world,

One of my tenants ask to pay her rent late because of a death in her family. How can I sympathize with her and also be stern about paying on time. How should I say it without coming off inconsiderate? Please advise.

Thanks,

Brian

Originally posted by @Brian Simmonds :

Hello BP world,

One of my tenants ask to pay her rent late because of a death in her family. How can I sympathize with her and also be stern about paying on time. How should I say it without coming off inconsiderate? Please advise.

Thanks,

Brian

 I'm really sorry about your mystery dead relative, hon.  But, my bank won't let me pay late or I get in trouble.  I'm sure you understand.

I once lied at a job saying my grandmother died (hey, I was 19) so I could get paid bereavement leave and go on vacation.  Employers got savvy later on, and now they require proof lol.

But, she knows that her car payment can't be late because somebody died, or any other number of bills.  Just keep nodding and saying you understand.  But, you need the rent on time.  Repeat until they give up.  Or you smile and walk away.

@Brian Simmonds   - If its a one time thing that the rent was late, I would personally let it go since its something like death in the family. Do you have a signed lease with the tenant? All my leases have $50 late fee. I go over that part 2-3 times and make sure they understand it. You can always nicely remind them that since the rent was late, there will be a small fee tacked on to them. If you want to be a real gentleman about it, I wouldn't even broach the topic right now. I would just tell them to pay you as soon as they can, and then deduct the late fee from the security deposit when the lease is over.

I don't understand why he can't pay the rent on time because someone died. I would say, "Rent is due on the first but late after the 5th. My condolences on uncle Freddy."

In my experience, maintaining a good but business oriented relationship with tenants is paramount. I'd let it go the first time around and give her some time (a week to two) once paid I'd make it a point to connect and reiterate the importance of on time payments. In Massachusetts your tenant can become a nightmare, if a tenant stops paying it can take months to get them out, not to mention the costs. Usually attorney fees, lost rent, increased vacancy, moving costs for the tenant(happened to me) and storage costs! The protections offered to tenants is similar in NY. I make sure to maintain a great relationship, after all excellent tenants can be an asset. But do draw that line so they know there is no crossing it.

Hope it works out!

Exactly.  Because, if they can't pay the rent this week because someone died, how are they going to get the rent paid by the end of the month, and then pay next month's rent on time?  This is when things domino.  

If they were asking to pay rent late because their company changed payroll systems and the deposits are messed up, but will be here in a couple days, that's one thing.  But, this tenant is basically asking to be able to use their rent money to go to a funeral they can't afford to go to.  If they had any money in the bank, they'd pay their rent, and use the savings to go.

I actually had a tenant tell me once that they won't be able to pay rent on time because they were going on vacation and it had been planned for a long time.  Yep, bad tenant I inherited.  I told her that if she wants to go on vacation without paying rent, that's her decision, but I'll be evicting her if she doesn't pay the rent.  She'll have to decide if she wants somewhere to come back to.

I had another one one time (another inherited tenant I also got rid of) tell me she couldn't pay the rent because she'd just gotten her eyelids tatooed so she wouldn't have to wear makeup anymore and gee, doesn't it look great?  Yep, told her she could take her lovely eyes to a new apartment somewhere else if she didn't find a way to pay the rent on time.  But, hey, yes, they look great.  Well, actually, it was kind of scary looking, but I didn't think she could handle that much bad news at once lol.

Not sure what a death in the family has to do with paying the rent on time. Sounds like an excuse to me, but I suppose you can give her the benefit of the doubt if this is the first time she's been late. At least she's communicating with you instead of just not paying.

I would tell her that you're very sorry for her loss, and that it's ok if she pays late, but she should be aware that there is a late fee that will be added because it is company policy if the rent is late, regardless of the reason.

Having a death in the family can wreck havoc on the household finances especially if they didn't have proper health/life coverage. If this is the only time rent has been late I would let them pay late but would charge the assigned late fee. If this has been a repeat situation and she has slowly killed off her entire family and the gold fish request the rent be paid immediately and yes charge the late fee.

I base everything on past history. How long has she been a tenant and how long has she been making payments on time, how many times has she been late. If she's a long term tenant with a long track record of on time payments I'd make a one time exception. If she's only been renting a short time or has been spotty meaning been late once or twice per year then I'd not give her any accord at all.

A death immediately before rent is due can distract a tenant but asking to pay late due to a death is not acceptable. It's done now but you need to make sure you collect the late payment fee. Excuses do not change the fact that she is late, they always have excuses but an excuse does not change anything..

If when she asked if she could pay late you said sure but you will owe the late fee I guarantee you would have been paid on time. Tenants always think landlords are like a bank that will lend them money on the first of the month.

I give new tenants a speech at the lease signing.  I tell them up front I am not trying to be a jackass but rent is due on the due date. No grace period no exceptions. I don't care if your mamma died, Bubba your boyfriend was tossed in the clink, or your work screwed up your paycheck. 

No pay, no stay

I have never, and would never, ask to pay rent late for any reason - other than maybe my source of income having a bank deposit issue.  If someone died, if my dog got sick, if I was going on vacation, whatever.  It would never occur to me to expect a landlord to get involved in my finances.

Would you?  If you were a renter?  Or when you were a renter?

I'm guessing no.  Then, why would the rules change once you were a landlord?

People are weird, for sure, and will ask for unreasonable things.  But, "no" is an answer.

I was recently somewhere where there was a bunch of people at an outdoor event.  Very casual, lots of low-income people there.  A woman I'd been chatting with realized that the coffee she'd just poured for herself had ants in it, because there were ants in the sugar container.  

She tried to hand her full, hot coffee styrofoam cup with floating ants in it to me. She said, "Oh yikes (or whatever) I'm freaked out about the fact that there are ants in my coffee, would you get rid of my coffee cup for me?"  And handed it toward me, expecting me to take it.

I said, "No, I don't want to touch your coffee cup."

She was amazed that I said no.  Her husband took it and dumped it out about 10 feet away.

But, there are people like this in this world.  This woman expected me to take her hot coffee and go throw it away for her.  I would never in a million years ask someone to do that for me.

So, I have a theory that there are 2 types of people in this world.  

1) I need to have something done, so I better learn how to do it.

2) I need to have something done, so I need to find someone to do it for me.

When person #2 approaches you to do the something for them, you need to say no.  Let them go find someone else.

Sorry to say this but some of you guys are coming across as heartless. When natural disaster strikes, even the big banks, who are often portrayed as greedy sharks even throw in few extra days for people to put their lives together. 

If someone passes away at the end of the month, and the rent is due on the 1st, with 3-4 days of grace period built into the lease. With all the arrangements that need to be done, one can easily lose track of even something as important as paying rent.  Now if someone is coming up with excuses month after month after month.. That's a different issue. But one time thing.. Really? I mean really.....?

The tenant isn't losing track of making the payment, she was planning in advance to be late.

>>"One of my tenants ask to pay her rent late because of a death in her family."

>>> "Now if someone is coming up with excuses month after month after month.. That's a different issue. But one time thing.. Really? I mean really.....?"

Nobody knows the real circumstances they have never been posted. Nobody knows if this is a one time thing or not, or whether she's been living there for 5 years with all on time payments, whether she has just moved in 2 months ago, whether she's been late 4 or 5 times over the last year... as I said, I'd need to know some history, I take each matter one at a time and based on past history of the tenant, universal 'slack' is not granted, slack is granted when it's warranted as this request being the exception.

sure thing! (+ late fee)

Originally posted by @Brian Simmonds :

One of my tenants ask to pay her rent late because of a death in her family. How can I sympathize with her and also be stern about paying on time. How should I say it without coming off inconsiderate? Please advise.

Got that same call today, which is strange. Mother has died (which reminds me, must pop her a message), could she pay rent in 2 week installments for a bit. Sure, no problem. They've had some personal issues in the last year so haven't been great about paying by the 5th, but they've kept up with us, they don't avoid us, the house is immaculate and they are largely up to date on rent. (Plus on a personal level, I am fully behind their personal issues as I think it'll make a massive improvement to their life.)

I'm not going broke over this, they are a great tenant, of course I'll cut them slack.

I think it's a personal decision whether to stand behind your tenant with or without a large knife.

Originally posted by @Tom V. :

Not sure what a death in the family has to do with paying the rent on time.

Because in many cases, the person who passes away has no money or assets to pay for any of the funeral costs, and the family has to get together. That will be exactly my tenants problem - she just got stung for several thousand in funeral costs.

Even if you aren't hit for funeral costs, you may still have to take time off work, and in many cases travel to the funeral at very short notice. Do you know how much a flight ticket is these days? Not cheap.

Or they could just be lying as they had a fantastic weekend and blew it all on cocaine.

I may sound heartless by saying rent is due on the due date no exceptions.  I used to listen to all the sob stories of why rent couldn't be paid.  After a tenant's mom "died" 2 years in a row, I quit listening to the bull crap and just give them the speech at lease signing.  5 years of listening to bs stories and headaches. Now zero tolerance. No pay no stay, no headaches

Sorry to say but having a roof over your head should be a persons number one priority in life. You pay your rent first and deal with all other life issues second. The reason for a person to assume they can take advantage of their landlord when ever they choose is because they know they can. My tenants know that their personal life issues are non of my business and I assume they look else where to solve their financial problems. Being a landlord does not make me responsible for their problems, they are not family and not my problem.

I have enough going on in my life without taking on the responsibility of all my tenants problems.

Wow thank you all for your help. Really useful information here!

So guys here's the kicker...this is my first multi family investment property. Like my first mortgage payment is due in July! It's a 4 family so luckily my other 3 tenants have all paid and I'm good on Julys mortgage. However I didn't foresee a late payment coming so so soon. Anywho, I ended up letting my tenant know that while I sympathize with her, payment still has to be paid in full by at least 5th of each month. I explained to her that as a courtesy I will waive the late fee THIS MONTH and take it out of her lease at the end of the term. I also asked her for a date as to when she will have June rent...get this she says June 20th! I was expecting something sooner. Although I was upset I didn't want to come off like A-hole. My thing is if she's paying on the 20th I hope she can afford to pay July by the 5th.

You guys have all been very helpful. I welcome anymore suggestion you have going forward from this situation. Thank you. 

My thinking is you need to get tough if you want to survive in this business. Started out tough demanding pay by the 5th then folded like a deck of cards. Then gave her a free pass. She is probably thinking she has a real dope for a landlord. I do not see your survival in the business lasting very long at this rate. Sooooooo sad. 

As a new landlord you have just been lied to and scr**ed over by your first tenant and don't even know it. How does it feel. 

She is a straight up liar and you have not only fallen for it but gifted her the free pass.

 Sorry for not showing compassion but this happens with new landlords so often it's a joke. 

Now the fun begins, you may actually get to do your first eviction. 

PS. Landlords have a responsibility to train tenants to be good tenants. Right now she is training you.

@Brian Simmonds , I sympathize with your situtation and I was even sympathetic to the tenant. However with your update (which I'm glad you posted) makes things clear. First, your tenant doesn't sound like she has built a long track record of paying rent on time and she's now telling you to expect payment late the following month. I understand you being sympathetic and extending her the courtesy to pay late this one time. I hope you put this in writing and that rent will be due on time the following month - not when it is financially convenient for your tenant. I would also check the laws in your state to see if you can deduct late fees from the security deposit (you may want to save those funds for damages to the property.)

I have made allowances in these cases, but they are few and far between and only after the tenant has a long payment history. Once was when payroll was late and my tenant asked me to call her human resources supervisor at her work to confirm it which I did. Another tenant I had, had simply forgot because she extended her vacation an extra day and was very apologetic - I called her because she had always paid on or before the first and it was unusual we hadn't received it yet. 

The other way to prevent these situations is when you are screening your applicants, look at their debt to income ratio (how big a percentage is their take home pay going to pay your rent amount?), credit reports (are they maxed out on their credit cards) and bank statements. Crappy things happens in life and many times it involves ponying up extra cash to meet the monthly bills. If your applicant is up to debt to their eyeballs, then funeral expenses can be out of reach and someone (the landlord?, the pest control service?, the utility company?) has got to give.

BTW @Sue K. , your stories are a riot! You should really write a book!

Originally posted by @Brian Simmonds :

 I also asked her for a date as to when she will have June rent...get this she says June 20th! I was expecting something sooner. Although I was upset I didn't want to come off like A-hole. My thing is if she's paying on the 20th I hope she can afford to pay July by the 5th.

This would make sense.  If your tenant is getting paid bi-weekly this would fall in place with being her 2nd paycheck this month.  Tragedy always happens when you least expect it.  Make it a point to keep notes in your tenant folder and include any late payments and the reason for each situation.  Review this when it comes time to renew your lease.  This could very well be a one time thing and nothing to worry about, but still make it a point to notate it and refer to it when needed.  Out of curiosity, when you purchased the home did you have an opportunity to review each tenant file? notice any patterns?

Originally posted by @Cynthia Nina-Soto:
Originally posted by @Brian Simmonds:

This would make sense.  If your tenant is getting paid bi-weekly this would fall in place with being her 2nd paycheck this month.  Tragedy always happens when you least expect it.  Make it a point to keep notes in your tenant folder and include any late payments and the reason for each situation.  Review this when it comes time to renew your lease.  This could very well be a one time thing and nothing to worry about, but still make it a point to notate it and refer to it when needed.  Out of curiosity, when you purchased the home did you have an opportunity to review each tenant file? notice any patterns?

Forgot one thing.  If I where you I would send her a letter confirming that June rent is due to you no later than the agreed upon date of June 20 AND that July rent is due no later than July 1st. In your letter refer to the reason for your leniency and explain the late rent policy you have in place.  This will come in handy if you are ever in front of judge trying to evict her for non-payment of rent.  In other words - its ok to feel empathy for her situation but at the same time you are making it clear that you are no dope. :-)

I would ask for proof they are financially responsible for the funeral expenses of I were going to allow this one time late scenario.

Tenants projecting their personal issues can be a very slippery slope so beware of the downsides as others have mentioned above.

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