Rent is late consistently. Can we evict?

10 Replies

California law (and I think Oakland?) Describes

  • - The time range for economic hardship to end January 31st
  • - Court claims for unpaid rent can not begin until March 1st
  • - Previous unpaid rent is not grounds for eviction.

The agreement allows my subtenant to pay on the 1st and no later than the 5th every month.

If they've been paying consistently late after the 5th, and don't start to pay on time in February (which is outside the Covid economic hardship time range), can I start an eviction process? Is this a just cause?

In general, how do you handle late payment?

A few questions about this: does the tenant have a pattern with their payments? For example, do they pay every month but it's a few days after the 5th? We have some tenants that don't get paid until after rent is due so we have worked agreements where we collect their rent on the 6th instead of the 1st without late fees. They have provided proof of their pay dates however. Or are your tenants paying at random times every month and late fees don't deter them? And have you been consistent in sending them pay or quit notices? If you haven't been sending notices, you may have a difficult time evicting. Also, rumor has it that the new administration is planning to extend the eviction moratorium until fall of 2021. 

@Joe Pea     Here in Oakland, it is my uderstanding that the savvy tenants right now are able to simply fill out some paperwork that says they have an economic hardship and for the time being you can't evict them. Interestingly there is no real verification process whatsoever regarding them needing to show "proof" that they can't pay rent, or lost their job, etc. They simply need to fill out some paperwork. 

Originally posted by @Joe Pea :

Hello Julie, it is the latter: paying at random times, and sometimes late more than a month and playing catch up. We have not written pay or quit notices (we're new to this).

In that case, next time they are late, send a notice per the guidelines of your lease and state laws. Depending on the laws of your state, if you send the notice and accept a partial payment that may start the process over, so read up on your landlord/tenant laws where you are. The eviction process can be long and frustrating so it is critical to follow the exact procedures of the process to have a better chance of a successful outcome. I would even recommend an eviction attorney in your area. They will guide you through it. Good luck!


I don’t know if this is the time to pursue  that at the moment as it looks  like the moratorium may be extended.  Paying late is annoying and there is a strong possibility that at some point they are not going to be able to get caught up but it sounds like they are currently pretty close to current.  The last thing you want them doing now is googling what to do if I am getting evicted for late rent and then finding all the protections they have.  Once everything settles down it may be a good time to talk it over or non renew based on late payments when the courts open back up.  

Originally posted by @Joe Pea :

Thanks you all! What is an okay way to send a pay or quit notice? Is email okay? Text message? Paper? Multiple mediums?

It may depend on what your laws are. We always post them on the front door as well as send something electronically. And take a picture of the door/house after you post to prove you did it. With COVID, the rules may be different so it will be worth checking first. And make sure you fill out the notice exactly as the law indicates. Here, we have to also include any unattached garages or the notice will be invalid. (!) 


I'd talk to them and find out what is happening.  It could be they have no savings and they are waiting until they get paid.  One option is they can pay twice a month, but tell them payment has to be done on time.  Otherwise, add a late fee and know that they will pay late most months, but will also pay the late fee.  I'd do option 2 if they are just being lazy.

Just speak with them and try to shift the date of payment. Agreed on paper and notarized. Evictions can cause long lasting effects for the person(s) you evict. Not just monetarily, but in many other ways that could make things difficult outside of tenant-landlord relationships.