If you’re the owner of a rental property, there’s probably nothing that ruffles your feathers as much as when a tenant is late with the rent payment. When your tenants don’t pay on time, it can affect your ability to pay your own obligations on time. As a rental property owner, a single late rental payment can feel like a major blow to your personal finances.
It doesn’t have to be the case, however. Here’s what to do when your tenant pays rent late.
Consider the circumstances
About 1 in every 5 renters in 2020 fell behind in rent during the pandemic, a statistic that should remind rental property owners of a very important question: Is late rent the result of extenuating circumstances, or is it the norm?
It’s important to note the distinctions between the occasional late payment and a habitual late-paying tenant. If you’re involved in property management in Santa Clara County, you should understand that because of high housing costs, any disruption of income can affect your tenant’s ability to pay the rent on time.
So, if a tenant is late with the rent, it’s smart to assess why the situation arose. Are they able to pay the rent but are unwilling? Or are they willing but unable? If willing but unable, it’s possible an otherwise good tenant has simply found themselves in a financial circumstance beyond their control.
What’s in writing?
Often, a property owner’s recourse regarding late rent is laid out ahead of time in the language of the lease. Which date each month rent is considered late, how much per day a late fee is charged, and the procedure by which eviction proceedings would begin are all things that should be in writing when the tenant moves in.
According to California law, rent is late the day after it is due. If it’s due on the first of the month, a landlord could legally evict a tenant on the second. If there’s going to be a grace period, it needs to be spelled out in the lease.
If you’re managing the property yourself, you can search online for examples of leases. If you were to hire a property management company, it would have standard leases that comply with federal, state, and local laws while still protecting the landlord. If there are local codes or ordinances to be followed, a property manager would take that into account in the lease.
If you owned a rental property in Sunnyvale, for example, a professional Sunnyvale property management company would use a lease that strictly follows local laws.
While it’s sometimes easier to recover late payments by patiently working with a tenant, there are times when landlords must begin the eviction process over non-payment. The law is generally on the property owner’s side when a tenant isn’t paying, but specific legal procedures must be followed.
First, you must give notice to the tenant that you’re asking them to leave. You must state in writing a time frame to pay in full, including any late fees detailed in the lease, or you will begin court proceedings. You’ll have to post the notice at the property, with photo evidence that you did so, and also send a copy via certified mail as evidence of the notice.
If the tenant doesn’t move out or pay in the time given, you can file for eviction in court. It might seem daunting to handle this process on your own, and remember that a business that does property management in Santa Clara County would know the ins and outs of the legal process and complete it for you.
Property Management Services from Valley Management Group
Valley Management Group provides affordable and trustworthy property management services and has been serving the needs of both property owners and tenants in San Jose and Santa Clara County for over 40 years. If you own a rental property in Santa Clara County, contact us for a free property management quote and one free month of management services when you sign up.