Noooooo tenant is 10 days late on rent. What to do ???

69 Replies

Basically I've posted a late notice on a tenant door. It pretty much stated May 15, 2017 which is today is her deadline and 19th is when the court precedings will begin. I text you this am and reminded her of the late payment and this is her response " Good morning, My available funds on my social security disability account have still not been released, they have identified who the individual was that fraudulently used my debit card and charges have been filed. Still I understand that doesn't solve my rent payment, I'm meeting with my pastor this morning I have explained my situation and I believe my church family is going to help me get my rent paid. Again I apologize for the inconvenience I have caused the company !! I'm really fighting as hard as I can mentally and physically not to be put out of my home !! I'm currently fighting incurable terminal kidney disease stage 3 daily plus diabeties and diabetic nerve damage in both legs , along with upper and lower bulging discs in my back. I'm not asking for pity just for a little understanding that I am really and truly a good tenant....I've just been put in an extenuating circumstance !! I will contact you and make immediate deposit as soon as I get my rent payment !! Sincerely Janice " 

Any suggestions ? She been a day late twice before. Never really no real issues. Overall a decent tenant but this is a business. What should I do ? 

I think there's nothing for you to do but move forward with the process that you started. If she pays, then you can simply stop the eviction process. But in the meantime, let it continue as your insurance because if you cancel it before she pays, you're gambling on if you get rent or not. And if you don't get it, you will have lost time (and therefore more money).

So keep moving forward. Thank her for the information and be kind but professional.

Did they communicate this all in advance or only after you filed the notice?

Their response includes a variety of red flags common to bad tenants:

1. My debit card was stolen. Did they report it to the police? Did they tell you about it and warn you that rent may be late? Do they have any evidence to back their claim?

2. Social Security funds haven't been released? The government sucks at many things but they tend to cut checks on an automated schedule.

3. I'm going to my church family. Many tenants find a church when rent is late.

4. I have all these medical issues. My great aunt passed away in Tennessee and I just had to be there for the funeral. My brother is getting married in California. My dog needed an emergency appendectomy. The list goes on.

She could be telling the truth on all of this but it closely mirrors what I hear from bad tenants all the time. You need to know whether you are willing to deviate from your policy or not. I've learned that if you do it once, they'll expect you to do it again.

Let us know what you decide and how it works out.

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This may all be true, however, it does not change the fact that you are owed the rent.

I had the mormon church pay for one of my tenants once several years back.  The family hit hard times and the church paid 2 months, after which we let the people out of their lease and they went somewhere they could afford.

I would proceed with the notices and eviction, as if the note did not come through. She may get the money, she may not. 

Best of luck. This is not a fun situation. 

@Isiah Ferguson
I remember hearing these kind of conversations growing up. The disconnect I always had was somehow their cable bill was still getting paid. They still had money for pizza, McDonalds, and a 12-pack of beer. Not that I'm saying that tenants should only eat tuna fish and boiled pasta, but they often make choices with their money. Consequently, like it or not, you sometimes have to persuade people to make rent a greater priority than HBO. Filing for an eviction, late payment penalties, etc. serve to do that. Either that or I'm still bitter than growing up tenants had HBO and I didn't.

The good tenants that had issues would have a different response, more along the lines of: "I only have _____ for you today but should have the remainder by _____." There's a whole other discussion as to if you should accept partial payments. But they *better* tenants always seemed to at least offer what they had if they were behind. We might end up driving by to pick up $50 cash every week (which is a pain) but it got paid. @Nathan G. might be able to lend perspective on his experience with tenant that offer partials payments when they are behind.

The fun experiences of my youth has me using a PM firm today.

Of course, I would like to avoid the court process if I can. I would even consider giving her cash for keys. She never notified me that she would be late after the 5th, I contacted her on the 6th. Explained how she lost her purse etc. blah blah blah. I told her she'll get a 10 day deadline notice to pay and if not the company will follow through with the court process. Today, which is her deadline day. She didn't contact me explaining her response from my previous post, I text her saying today is the deadline day and that was her response.

Moving forward, my response will be " There is a company policy and a protocol I have to follow as a "property manager". The property owner is willing to work with your unfortunate circumstances but it will be mandatory to provide necessary documentation of a police report and a statement from your Church pastor stating, he will pay your rent total for the month of May and payment date. These documentation should be sent to me by Via Text Message or E-Mail before 4pm on May 15, 2017. If you fail to summit documentations we will have to proceed with the eviction process.

Goodluck !

Sincerely, Richard

Community manager" 

@Christine Kankowski

@Nathan G.

@Nicole W.

@Isiah Ferguson and @Andrew Johnson

I typically only accept partial payments if they are made in advance of the due date, meaning I have the full amount by the time rent is due, or for a tenant with a good history that has fallen on hard times and requests the accommodation in advance.

I've been saying this a lot lately but it's worth repeating: if the tenant makes you chase them down for rent, they are not a good tenant and I recommend you avoid any negotiations or deviations from policy. These tenants have a high-likelihood of making life difficult for you.

If they are historically good and voluntarily come to you in advance of the due date to explain they are having problems, it may be OK to negotiate with them because they're demonstrating initiative and good communication which is key to their success.

I hope this helps. 

Your response will be a mistake. Suggesting you will work with her is not the correct approach. You have already worked with her and she has not attempted to resolve the issues aside from providing lame excuses. This is going down a common path that so far you have blindly followed. I believe that tenants share a scripted spiel designed to draw out landlords as far as possible to get free rent till finally evicted. This one is identical to what every other landlord has fallen for in the past. Hook, line and sinker 

You must simply inform her you will be proceeding with the eviction and the situation is in her hands. You are being played and are still falling for the line. Stop immediately, do not fall for the BS.

You will very likely need to get rid of this tenant. If she pays you should be suggesting she move or not renew her lease.

Next time a tenant does not pay by mid night on the first you issue the notice first thing next morning. Every day you stall is more money lost.

Maybe it's as simple as the form of payment. I've had tenants that were always late and I've heard every excuse, but moving them to online payments gave them no more excuses, there was no stamp to find anymore, no more "closed banks" and so on. It honestly helped. 

This may not be the solution to your problem, but it may help if it's one less thing for them to worry about,  like finding their checkbook, instead all they have to do is go online and pay. 

It's worth a shot, setting up online payments is pretty simple, and if it doesn't help, no skin off your back, but if it does it's a win!

Let me know if you have any questions on how I set up mine, feel free to direct message me I'm happy to help if I can. 

Have you thought about cash for keys? Pay her to leave. Evictions are lengthy and permanent, and have a lot of potential for damages. 1000 now could save you a lot more by the time eviction is complete

@Isiah Ferguson . These are never easy situations. I agree with some of the responses before mine. Was that a legal Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (or the equivalent for your jurisdiction)? If so, that's often what an aid organization (or church) will require to see before they will consider offering emergency funds. Even if the agency or church agrees to help, there's processing time that must be taken into consideration. 

Most tenants in this type of situation are under such stress that they don't think clearly. They delay unnecessarily in reaching out to their support network. They pretend (to themselves and others) that soon someone will save their bacon and come to their rescue. They don't understand how systems work. They fail to notify the landlord of their situation until rent is way past due. They tend to hide and become less communicative or become spinners of tall tales.

In our jurisdiction there's a significant cost I incur when I move forward with the eviction process. It starts when I pay my attorney and he files for Unlawful Detainer with the county court. The whole process costs $600-$800 and removes the tenant from the unit in 3-4 weeks. Swift and sure.

If the tenant has proven otherwise to be a good tenant, I wouldn't spend the money to evict until I had done my best to save the tenancy. I would stop the texting and meet with her personally, which affords for better communication. 

I would engage her in a dialogue. Keys points I would cover: "I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch. It must be difficult for you." (empathy). As you know, we need rent to be paid in full and on time every month. (re-establish expectation). Hopefully your church family will come through. What time is your meeting with the pastor today? If they agree to pay your rent, we will need to receive the rent money today or a commitment letter from them with a promise to pay no later than the 18th. (need to verify if this plan is viable). When did the fraud occur with your account, when did you discover it, when did you report it to the bank, when did you report it to the police? To consider this an extenuating circumstance, I would need to see documentation that supports what you are telling me about the loss of funds. This would not excuse you of your obligation to pay rent, but we may be able to work with you as you sort this out. (need to verify if, at no fault of her own, her funds really were stolen). We really want you to be able continue to live here. (if sincere). To do so, you need to be able to afford to pay the rent and have a financial cushion for times when things go wrong. (encourage tenants to restructure the way they manage finances so they are not living paycheck to paycheck) If not, then it would be best for us to talk about a move-out plan. (better now, by mutual agreement to end the tenancy, than to drag it out through the courts). What do you think? (invite dialogue and show respect... what is possible?)

First, I would like to thank  ALL you guys and show appreciation for your responses and help. 

@Marcia Maynard You've touch on some really valid points and questions' to ask. The letter was a legal document equivalent to my jurisdiction that I've recieved form the property manager in the community that I'm renting in which is not too far from my investment property. So i should be okay with the letter. Communicating in person is always better than a Text. I sent her my last post I shared previously and she responded "ok thank u". From here, ill give to until the end of the day to provide documentation and if she does send me her documentation, ill give her additional deadline period to pay. If not, I will proceed with the eviction process letter. Do I have to go through the courts to get an eviction letter ? Can I just give her a letter of Eviction myself ? and see if she agree to leave in a 30 day time frame to vacate the permises. Should I offer cash for keys ? Or just head too the court house to get the ball rolling ?

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The process for eviction in your state should be conveyed by an attorney, or at least by an experience investor in your state. You can do an eviction Pro Se, but from what you've written, an attorney is highly suggested.

You can deliver a 3 Day Pay Rent or Quit (in some states it is a 5 days) notice yourself. In fact, you must deliver that notice first before beginning eviction procedure. I don't quite get when her due date was, but if they are late, I start by calling them and asking where the rent is. I explain the contract and that they are supposed to contact me before the 1st if the rent is going to be late. If it is late again the next month, I deliver a 3 Day Pay Rent or Quit notice. Usually that gets their attention, but often it is needed for them to go begging for help.

Don't give them 30 days to vacate unless their rent is current, or you will still have to evict them after 30 days of their having not paid the rent.

Cash for keys may work, but have them sign a paper indicating they have vacated the premises of their own accord and without coercion. Only give them money after you've inspected the premises, they have left it generally clean and you have taken full possession of the premises.

I am not a fan of cash for keys. Not because it doesn't work, but rather you send a tenant out to prey on another unsuspecting landlord without a paper trail of verifiable historical facts. When you evict someone it stays on their credit history for several years.  

To correctly answer, we all would need the full details of your situation, such as: How long has the tenant lived there?  Has the tenant been late before?  Is the tenant hard to work with?...etc.  Further, I would ask the tenant if they can make a good faith payment.  If they keep giving excuses, then I would proceed with the case or cash for keys. 

The eviction route can give the tenant additional weeks if not months of free rent if they play their cards correctly.  Also, if the tenant is smart they may ask the judge to not post the eviction to their record (i do not know how this works but I have seen it happen).  

Cash for keys could get them out the quickest but as Bernie said, it leaves other landlords vulnerable to that tenant.  

I will be the contrarian.   Everything everyone said about continuing the process is absolutely the right business decision.   If you were a large multinational corporation, this is exactly the way it would get handled, at least until it made the nightly news.

I would suggest that you are not a large multinational corporation.   She has a steady source of income that is recession proof (disability payments).   She had her bank account stolen, which provides a cash crunch but not a change to the underlying fundamentals of her situation (she has the money to pay each month).  She is probably not that financially sophisticated (or she would have been communicating with you sooner).   At some point the back will reimburse the money, this is not a permanent situation.  

Provide a little grace.   Tell her if she gets the payment by the 1st of the upcoming month you will waive the late fees.   That gives her 15 days to solve the issue.   Make it clear this is a 1 time grace period that you wont apply again.

1. If she pays, everyone is happy

2. If she does not you only lost 15 days off the eviction process anyway.

 You get the bonus of providing a little mercy to the less fortunate.

It is your money, but it is also your life.   Decide how you want to live it.

Good Luck.

Originally posted by @John Nachtigall :

I will be the contrarian.   Everything everyone said about continuing the process is absolutely the right business decision.   If you were a large multinational corporation, this is exactly the way it would get handled, at least until it made the nightly news.

I would suggest that you are not a large multinational corporation.   She has a steady source of income that is recession proof (disability payments).   She had her bank account stolen, which provides a cash crunch but not a change to the underlying fundamentals of her situation (she has the money to pay each month).  She is probably not that financially sophisticated (or she would have been communicating with you sooner).   At some point the back will reimburse the money, this is not a permanent situation.  

Provide a little grace.   Tell her if she gets the payment by the 1st of the upcoming month you will waive the late fees.   That gives her 15 days to solve the issue.   Make it clear this is a 1 time grace period that you wont apply again.

1. If she pays, everyone is happy

2. If she does not you only lost 15 days off the eviction process anyway.

 You get the bonus of providing a little mercy to the less fortunate.

It is your money, but it is also your life.   Decide how you want to live it.

Good Luck.

You are assuming that what the tenant claims is true. I highly doubt it is. When you get an overflow of heart-tugging excuses, its usually because they are just trying to throw everything and anything at you to see if something sticks. First that the purse was stolen. Then that the gov't has the payment held. Then trying to tug at the religious strings. Then the list of health ailments. All in a single message.

Maybe I might have some grace if she told @Isiah Ferguson about the bank account issue prior to 5 days after rent being due and offered to show a police report or stated that she's working with the police immediately. All of these are stories I've heard before and excuses I've seen bundled together - and they always seem to happen just when rent is due.

Evictions aren't usually immediate, so if what she is saying is true about getting money from the church or where-ever, the process can be cancelled and she'll have enough time to resolve this supposed bank account issue. Its not like the OP is setting up movers to throw her to the curb tomorrow.

@John Nachtigall Giving this tenant until the 1st of the month (June) to pay May rent is setting her up for failure. Now, not only will she need to find May rent but also June rent on the same day. I'm willing to bet that she will not be able to do that. That amount of grace will help no one.

@Nicole W.

Her disability payment will come in June regardless, she still only has to find the May payment.   The assumption is that the bank will have refunded it or the church will have provided it by then.   The whole theory here is that it is a cash crunch, not a budgeting/state change.    It is 15 days, if he cant get it by then, he can always start the eviction at that point.   It is a 2 week delay, not a loss of rights.

@Matthew Olszak

She might well be lying, lets say for a moment it is 80% probable she is lying, we cant be sure.   In exchange for 2 weeks you get that information.   Some people simply cant handle pressure.   We already know she does not have an emergency fund (or this would not be an issue).   Do you think laying an eviction on her will increase or decrease the chances of getting paid.   And if she is playing you...so what.   You will still evict her, it will have taken an extra 15 days.

I get what you all are saying, I am providing a different opinion.  You want the business case to wait?   She has a guaranteed income (disability) and a track record of paying (a few times she was late).   She has a disability so she is not going to be looking to move for work or at all because moving is physically demanding.   So why blow a long term good tenant (income, long stay, track record) over 2 weeks.   I would remind everyone that the tenant is your customer.   You provide a product (housing) in exchange for money.  2 weeks of extra grace in these circumstances seems like good customer service to me.    

I'm done.......smh

Originally posted by @John Nachtigall :

@Nicole W.

Her disability payment will come in June regardless, she still only has to find the May payment.   The assumption is that the bank will have refunded it or the church will have provided it by then.   The whole theory here is that it is a cash crunch, not a budgeting/state change.    It is 15 days, if he cant get it by then, he can always start the eviction at that point.   It is a 2 week delay, not a loss of rights.

@Matthew Olszak

She might well be lying, lets say for a moment it is 80% probable she is lying, we cant be sure.   In exchange for 2 weeks you get that information.   Some people simply cant handle pressure.   We already know she does not have an emergency fund (or this would not be an issue).   Do you think laying an eviction on her will increase or decrease the chances of getting paid.   And if she is playing you...so what.   You will still evict her, it will have taken an extra 15 days.

I get what you all are saying, I am providing a different opinion.  You want the business case to wait?   She has a guaranteed income (disability) and a track record of paying (a few times she was late).   She has a disability so she is not going to be looking to move for work or at all because moving is physically demanding.   So why blow a long term good tenant (income, long stay, track record) over 2 weeks.   I would remind everyone that the tenant is your customer.   You provide a product (housing) in exchange for money.  2 weeks of extra grace in these circumstances seems like good customer service to me.    

@Isiah Ferguson

If you think she is taking advantage of you I get it.   Good Luck, do you know how long an eviction takes in your state, I am not familiar with NC law?  

PS: You are going to want to charge your phone soon, you look like you have 2% battery   :-)

Create a system with evictions and stick to it. We allow one payment plan with no other leeway. There will always be a sob story and a "I can get the money by X date." If you buy those lines, your life will turn into a nightmare.