As a rental property owner, you may not experience many non-paying renters in your time. Or you may have the bad luck of having multiple experiences with them.
However, every renter who stops paying rent is not created equal, so the correct response varies when rent goes unpaid. When you're looking at late or missing rent, you're also starting to weigh your options, including "what does it cost to evict a tenant" versus letting the renter live out the remainder of the lease in the property.
By following some general guidelines, property owners can make the right decisions to preserve ROI, even if a notice of eviction and the court-based eviction process prove necessary. Here's what we recommend as the best real property management Baltimore offers!
Start With Communication (and Don't Panic)
It's easy for missing rent to end landlord-tenant Communication, with renters hoping to fly under the radar and property owners hoping that the check will arrive any day. However, when rent is late, it's the most vital time to do proactive outreach.
Starting with a late rent notice is a recommended approach. Property managers also suggest following up on a notice with a phone call. In many cases, owners waste time worrying about rent that's a few days late if it turns out that your renter just had an unexpected car repair and had to wait to pay rent till their next paycheck came in.
Of course, even if a renter has a reason for late or missing rent, check the lease and begin documenting responses to your reminders and eventual rent payment (or non-payment). While we all hope that a first-time offense is a mere blip in a stellar record of paying rent on time. However, for the once-in-a-while renter trying to live rent-free in your property, you will be glad you documented the issue sooner rather than later.
Offer a Payment Plan If Appropriate
If a circumstance has thrown your renter's ability to pay into question, it's almost always worth talking through a potential payment plan. Smaller rent payments with higher ones after a month or two to help renters get back on their feet, for instance, can sometimes be enough to get a renter back on track. In addition, when you help out a renter who turns their bad situation around, you often create better relationships, which can be good for long-term renter retention.
As you consider a payment plan for a renter, it can be hard to discern whether you're dealing with someone who is sincere but out of their depth, someone who is manipulating you, or someone who really can get back on track. When offering payment flexibility, document the agreement, and be clear about the consequences.
If your renter follows the payment plan, they regain your trust, get caught up on past-due payments, and continue through what remains of their tenancy without penalty. However, if the payment plan isn't completed, the timeline clock for eviction should begin.
Level With Renters About the Timeline and Next Steps
You might feel tempted not to mention the word "eviction" because it's better for property owners when renters pay rent and catch up on past-due payments.
However, being clear about your process allows you to be firm while treating all renters fairly and equally. So, what is eviction? Your renter might see it as a threat or a way to scare them into paying. However, successful rental property owners know that eviction is a last resort when all other options to collect past-due rent or enforce the rules fail.
If rules remain broken, inform your renter that the legal eviction process is next.
When Nothing Else Works, Proceed with a Notice of Eviction
With clear communication, ideally, a renter who knows they won't pay will do what they can to move out pre-eviction. After all, an eviction is a bad mark on their rental history and could make it harder to find a new place to rent in the future. However, at some point, you may get the feeling that this renter is prepared to wait it out.
Consult your attorney and a property manager to help you follow the letter of the law when it comes to delivering an eviction notice in Maryland. Property managers can help you through the next steps of going to court and managing the renter until they must leave the property. The court costs and legal fees for eviction can be frustrating, but taking this step paves the way to freeing up your rental for the next renter.
The Best Real Property Management Baltimore Offers Can Guide You Through Evictions
Not every rental property owner has handled an eviction or had the opportunity to avoid one with a payment plan or an early move-out. However, Renters Warehouse BW Metro is experienced in these situations and can help guide you as you set best practices for your rentals. Ideally, you won't ever have to use those policies. However, we're here to help! Reach out to learn more about our property management company and services.
To prepare yourself in case of eviction, download our "Rental Property Owner's Tenant Eviction Checklist" today!