One of the things that landlords fear the most is having a tenant who doesn’t pay rent. That’s understandable; you have your own financial obligations to meet, and some of them probably rest on the incoming rent you should be receiving.
If you want to ensure you collect rent on time every month from your tenants, you need to pay attention to tenant screening and have a consistent rent collection policy in place. If you find there’s a tenant who simply refuses to pay, you’ll need to be prepared to evict.
Screening Tenants for Rental Payments
Your tenant screening process should cover everything from credit checks to income verification and criminal background investigations. It’s a good idea to be especially focused on rental payments. You want a tenant who has a history of paying on time. Talk to current and former landlords to find out how they performed in the past. Ask if rent was paid on time, and if it was ever late, find out how quickly the tenant was able to catch up. Always conduct a nationwide eviction check to be sure your applicant hasn’t been evicted previously for unpaid rent.
If you’re thorough before you sign a lease, you’ll have a better chance of collecting rent seamlessly once that tenant is placed in your home.
Rent Collection Policy and Your Lease Agreement
Every landlord needs a rent collection policy that’s clear, fair, and consistent. Then, you need to enforce that policy. Your lease agreement should state how much rent is due, when it is due, and how it is to be paid. The lease also needs to reflect any consequences for late rent, such as late fees. If there’s a grace period, make sure you include that as well.
If a tenant is late paying rent, follow the terms of your rent collection policy. Charge the late fees, follow up with the tenant, and then post a Three Day Notice to Pay or Vacate if you don’t get a response. Make sure you’re consistent with all of your tenants. If you waive a late fee for one tenant but not another, you could be accused of discrimination and find yourself stuck in a fair housing claim. Collect the late fee from every tenant every time. It will set a standard and keep you out of trouble.
Prepare to Move towards Eviction
No one wants to evict a tenant. You’d rather keep your property occupied. However, if your tenant is not paying rent despite your calls and messages, you’ll need to take action so you can remove that tenant and replace him or her with a tenant who does pay rent reliably. When you serve a Three Day Notice, you’re letting your tenant know that they have three days to pay, or you’re beginning the formal eviction process. Usually, your rent will show up before the end of those three days.
If it doesn’t, we recommend you contact an Oakland property manager or an experienced eviction attorney to help you through the court process. It’s not complicated to fill out the forms and file the eviction, but the slightest mistake can get your case thrown out and your eviction delayed.
If you have any questions about rent collection, please contact us at Vision Property Management. We’d be happy to help you with all of your Oakland investment property needs.