Tenant Has Stopped Paying Rent

13 Replies

Hello everyone and hope you're doing well. I would like some insight to my present situation, i know we are not lawyers but i would like to listen to different opinions with the hope of gaining some knowledge.

I have a tenant who moved-in in September, we went through the process of vetting, called his work place, his background check came back clean. One thing i did notice was that he didn't have a rental history (red flag i guess) but when i asked he said he leaved in another city with family and has never had the need to rent.

September and October rents were paid on time but after that from October to February his rent payment was a hassle to get as we had to call till they were finally paid.

Then came the Covid-19, we tried to worked something out. We stopped collecting late fee and reduced the rent as we were all facing difficult times and agreed in writing once the states opens up we would return to regular rent payment as stipulated on the lease.I required some documents from him to confirm he was out of work and his document showed he's been out of work since November.

We've not received any rent since March, i reached out to him and he complained he was holding back rent because there are things in the property that needs to be fixed threatening to call an inspection officer to the house. I sent out my contractor to get everything he stated and much more fixed.

Reached out to him again after his grievances had been met, now he's saying he would pay me weekly based on what he has and that he would pay the rest of the rent with this girlfriend's tax returns .

So bear in mind that his lease expires in September, here are my thought: do i start eviction now, i dont think the courts are accepting eviction cases but i may be wrong, also there's also an eviction freeze in New York till July.

Or wait till September to terminate the contract and go after him with the court.

Thank You for your response

I would call an attorney in your area.  They will be able to give you the best advice with the particular legalities in your state.  Tough situation for sure, but sounds like you are being played.

Originally posted by @Sarah Brown :

I would call an attorney in your area.  They will be able to give you the best advice with the particular legalities in your state.  Tough situation for sure, but sounds like you are being played.

 Definitely, i intend on doing that

@Enyi Ajoku , Cuomo issued a moratorium on evictions until August 20th.  So you're SOL in regards to getting them out before then, and there will be a back up in the courts, so who knows when you'll even get in front of a judge.  I'd wait until September, and also let him know that you will be reporting his delinquent payment to the credit reporting companies if he does not catch up on rent.  Obviously you can come to a mutual agreement about the repayment plan, but make sure they stick to it.

You won't get an eviction until at least September. I'd work out a payment plan with him and ride it out. And then I watch very closely for other lease breaches, in Arizona we can still evict for any lease breach other than non-payment. It seems best practice right now is to work out a payment plan and also put the tenant in touch with any state, county or city support available to tenants to help them pay rent.

@Enyi Ajoku

I know hind sight is 20/20 however my biggest recommendation is upon late rent, issue a pay or quit. Every time. I never make a phone call asking for rent. A properly served notice is what is required 100% of the time for the courts. A phone call holds zero weight. If you call\text you are going to get one of several answers:

1) I don't have it

2) There is a problem with the apartment (Which they are not able to hold back rent for)

3) Can we work out a deal where instead of rent this month, I wash the windows and trim the back hedgerow?

4) No answer and you go to voicemail. 

5) Excuse about not feeling well or a very sick relative

So instead of chasing (and pointless debating/arguing), put the notice and if they want they can chase you. As far as a stop on evictions in NY that is 100% correct. It does not mean to sit and wait though. It means "File your notices". Once it's lifted you will either have 9 notices in court, where it is a slam dunk or they will say "He called and said it was free because of Covid, I didn't know I had to start paying again". Where the judge can honestly not know what happened on a phone conversation. 9 Pay or quit notices speak volumes. 

Just my 2 cents and good luck

Originally posted by @Dick Rosen :

You won't get an eviction until at least September. I'd work out a payment plan with him and ride it out. And then I watch very closely for other lease breaches, in Arizona we can still evict for any lease breach other than non-payment. It seems best practice right now is to work out a payment plan and also put the tenant in touch with any state, county or city support available to tenants to help them pay rent.

Thank You for your response,

I did put in payment plan of $900 monthly for the last three month and i only got $150. 

Yes I've reached out to the tenant about some relief programs that the city is offering, im waiting for a response

 

Originally posted by @Scott Wolf :

@Enyi Ajoku, Cuomo issued a moratorium on evictions until August 20th.  So you're SOL in regards to getting them out before then, and there will be a back up in the courts, so who knows when you'll even get in front of a judge.  I'd wait until September, and also let him know that you will be reporting his delinquent payment to the credit reporting companies if he does not catch up on rent.  Obviously you can come to a mutual agreement about the repayment plan, but make sure they stick to it.


Thank You for your response,
But here is my dilemma, his lease terminates September 15th bearing in mind that he need a 30 day notice of non-renewal of lease .
At this point i am as pessimistic as i can with regards to this tenant and i dont think i'll be getting rent.
Would it be a good approach to terminate the lease and get someone else in and go after him in claims court or collections?

Originally posted by @Mike Cumbie :

@Enyi Ajoku

I know hind sight is 20/20 however my biggest recommendation is upon late rent, issue a pay or quit. Every time. I never make a phone call asking for rent. A properly served notice is what is required 100% of the time for the courts. A phone call holds zero weight. If you call\text you are going to get one of several answers:

1) I don't have it

2) There is a problem with the apartment (Which they are not able to hold back rent for)

3) Can we work out a deal where instead of rent this month, I wash the windows and trim the back hedgerow?

4) No answer and you go to voicemail. 

5) Excuse about not feeling well or a very sick relative

So instead of chasing (and pointless debating/arguing), put the notice and if they want they can chase you. As far as a stop on evictions in NY that is 100% correct. It does not mean to sit and wait though. It means "File your notices". Once it's lifted you will either have 9 notices in court, where it is a slam dunk or they will say "He called and said it was free because of Covid, I didn't know I had to start paying again". Where the judge can honestly not know what happened on a phone conversation. 9 Pay or quit notices speak volumes. 

Just my 2 cents and good luck

Thank You for your response,
Yes i have been giving out notices. But here is my dilemma, his lease terminates September 15th.
Would it be a good approach to terminate the lease and get someone else in and go after him in claims court or collections? Your opinion is much appreciated

It seems like the best course of action would be to just wait it out until the end of the lease.  I know this not the idea situation, but I would like going to the legal route at this point could probably take up to 2 months anyway I'm guessing.  I would maybe try the cash for keys route, or just wait out the lease. 

This has clearly gone beyond your skill level. Hire an attorney, do it right, do it as quickly as possible, seek a judgment for anything unpaid, and then mentally write it off because you're unlikely to see a dime.

In the future, you should consider hiring a professional property manager. Assuming rent is $1,000 a month, you've already lost a minimum of $5,000 which would pay for 2-3 years of professional management and save you a lot of time, effort, and stress. There's no reason why this tenant couldn't pay rent with the stimulus income and unemployment boost of $600 per week. The average unemployed person could earn $3,600 in just one month of unemployment and stimulus, on top of their regular unemployment. There's almost no excuse for not paying.

Be sure to research the advice you are getting before taking action. In this unique and ever changing environment the regular rules do not apply. 
1. Do you have a loan on the property and if so is it federally backed? If you do not know call your serviced - the company you pay your mortgage to - and ask them.

2. If you do NOT have a federally backed loan you need to focus on your city and state regulations about evictions. New York is not Owner friendly so my guess is you will be under various restrictions which may increase the notice required or prevent evictions. If you can evict do it immediately. Go to the local court website and follow their rules to the letter. You may have to prove you do not have a federally backed loan.

If you DO have a federally backed loan you CAN NOT give notice until July 26th under the CARES Act (moratorium on asking tenants to leave ends at midnight on July 25th I think. On 26th you must give a 30 day notice no matter what you lease says.

Unfortunately, it is likely the Moratorium will be extended this week in the new relief bill. My guess is it will be 120 days but might be to the end of the year or even into next year. We will know by the end of this month. You still must consider local and state regulations in addition to cares act restrictions.

Under the CARES Act you cannot report him to a credit agency for rent not paid during COVID-19. You also cannot charge late fees. Don’t take a chance of a judge making an example of you.

3. If you are struggling to pay the mortgage look into forbearance. Call your servicer for information and read every word of the agreement before signing. Be careful of offers to “modify” your loan, this could affect you negatively on future loans. Ask what the consequences will be in future lending decisions.

4. Talk to your resident about:

Unemployment- have they filed? Almost everyone, even independent contractors are eligible. If it has been hard or frustrating so he has not done it encourage him to try again. Claims are going down so easier to get through. Benefits are retroactive. Also they are likely to be extended by Congress. 

Car payments can be deferred and sometimes partially forgiven. He should contact the number in his monthly statement and check.

Utilities can be deferred or forgiven he should call each utility including phone and cable.

Student loans - if he has any he should stop automatic payments because no payments are due until the state of emergency is lifted. He does not have to do anything to get this benefit it is automatic.

Local rental assistance programs - look to see if there are any and help him apply. Be careful that accepting these funds does not commit you to longer eviction moratoriums. Some programs come with strings.
If there are job services or listings available in the area provide those too.

Finally, you mentioned his girlfriend. Is she living there too? If so is she on the lease? If not I would ask to put her on the lease and run a background and credit check and follow your typical process to get her on the lease. 

Sorry for the long post, hope it helps!



@Chris Ganz thank you for your feedback. At the moment eviction  ban in NY has been extended to August 20th so i cant do anything right now. I plan terminating the lease and going after them in small claims court

@Lynn Dee Murrow thank you for your detailed response. I do have a lot of what you stated in place and i'll take all your comments into perspective. I am aware of the CARES Act but with the State banning eviction till Aug 20th does that complicate things?

 Looking for what people's opinion would be on giving a 30 day notice to terminate lease and get my apartment back in October or wait till the month of September to start an eviction of which i dont know for certain how long it will take since alot of cases would be in court

@Nathan G.   like i stated above, i am presently in NYS unless you know something that i dont you could tell me how a Property Manager is going to get an eviction when eviction has been banned till Aug. I would like to add that i manage other properties who have tenants unemployed and are still paying rent from there unemployment funds. i would appreciate that next time you take a moment after reading a post to sit back and comment constructively so that your comments dont sound brash and bragging. Thank You for the comments though