Regardless of how you became a landlord, your goal is to run your rentals like a business and be profitable. Part of running your rental like a business means collecting enough rent to cover expenses like maintenance, mortgage, and turn over.
It’s important to always have your tenants sign a lease and your lease should include the following things:
- The amount of rent.
- Where to make or send payments.
- When rent is due, including what happens if the rent due date falls on a holiday or on a weekend.
- How rent should be paid: check, money order, cash, online, and/or credit card.
- The amount of notice required before increasing rent.
- The amount of any extra fee if the rent check bounces.
- What happens if the rent is paid late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
The lease will not eliminate problems like late payments or no payments but, if clearly written, it will make things clear if worst comes to worst and you have to evict the tenant(s).
We also advise you to give no reason to the court to reject your eviction case, if it comes to eviction. So, make sure to:
- Perform all the necessary repairs to keep the renting property in good condition.
- Comply with the safety, health and housing codes.
- Maintain common areas in a safe and sanitary manner.
- Follow the applicable state legislation and local eviction procedures if you are forced to evict your tenant(s).
Now that we have cleared all these auxiliary issues lets discuss what you should do in case your tenant is not paying the rent.
Dealing with Tenants Who Don’t Pay Rent
Let’s say the rent was due on the 1st of the month and you didn’t receive it.
- Try to first handle the issue as a misunderstanding that could be solved with a simple conversation or via a letter or e-mail. Have this conversation/mailing as soon as possible. If you don’t receive the money and can’t work something out with the tenant you’ll have to start the eviction process.
- First, deliver the notice of eviction to the tenant. Use one of the forms approved by Supreme Court. They will include a 3-day notice for nonpayment of rent. The amount due mentioned on the 3-day notice cannot be higher than the total amount of past due rent. The notice has to be served to the tenant. It can be securely posted to the door of the premises, or sent via certified mail to be able to document it or you can hand it to an adult occupant of the leased premises. If you receive the money before the end of day 3, you should stop the eviction process.
- Create an eviction complaint. You will file it if the rent is not paid during the notice period as explained above
- You should file the required eviction packet with the county clerk’s office. The eviction packet should include:
- five copies of the lease agreement and notice provided to the tenant,
- a pre-stamped envelope addressed to all occupants/tenants.
- Complaint should be either notarized before filing it or you can swear to it in front of the clerk
- Pay the relevant complaint filing fee. In most counties in , this filing fee is $185.
- Provide a service of summons to the tenant. That can be conducted by a private process server or by a county sheriff that will confirm in writing that the notice was delivered.
- Tenants have 5 days to answer the eviction summons. If the tenant pays the rent during this period you, as a landlord must contact the court to schedule a hearing.
- If the tenant doesn’t answer the summons, file a motion with the clerk asking for a default judgment.
- Go to court for your hearing and take with you all notice receipts. Attend the hearing and answer all questions presented by the judge. If the judge considers you are right, the court will order the sheriff to evict the tenant in 24 hours.
- The sheriff will serve the tenant a writ of possession, ordering the tenant to vacate the property. You have to pay for this service.