Besides thorough screening, proper rent collection techniques are the best way to avoid evictions and reduce turnover. Rent collection might seem like the most basic part of managing a property. It’s a tenant’s responsibility and contractual obligation to pay rent. So, many landlords think they just need to collect and deposit a check every month. Being a landlord is a business, and tenants are your customers. I like to think of collecting rent as part of the landlord’s job. Proper rent collection techniques will improve the tenant’s customer experience, and reduce delinquencies. Today, we’re providing tips on rent collection.
Collecting Rent Electronically
Automate the process. Go electronic, and allow tenants to pay rent online. I don’t mean have them deposit a rent payment in your bank electronically. Use a proper property management software platform to do it the right way. You’re trying to create a habit of making the tenant pay the rent before they pay anything else. Make it easy on the tenant, and make the process professional. You don’t want to have them slip it under the door or get it to you when they can. If you don’t take it seriously, you can’t expect your tenants to take it seriously.
Document the Rent Collection Process
Have a reliable record of rent collection. That’s another benefit of having automation. If you do have to go to a judge to evict a tenant, you’re not showing your bank account or digging up written receipts. It’s a proper ledger that can show when the money came in. Having records in order will help you tremendously.
Send Tenant Reminders
We send reminders. If they didn’t pay on the 1st , we remind them that rent needs to be paid. At the end of day on day 4, we send a text reminding tenants who haven’t paid yet that rent is considered late on the 5th. If someone is not on an automatic payment schedule, they may forget. Or, the payment didn’t go through, and they don’t know it. So, tenants appreciate getting those reminders so they aren’t late.
If they are late, you really want to stay on top of it. Call, text, and email. Communication must be established, and you want to find out why they’re late. Maybe their car broke down or something happened with their job. Get the story in writing. If it turns into an eviction, you don’t want your tenants to later claim they didn’t pay because the heat wasn’t working. You want to have the explanation in writing; it’s a valuable tool.
Charge Late Fees Consistently
Don’t be afraid to charge a late fee. It’s not so much the money, but it helps the tenants prioritize that the rent gets paid before the gas or cable bill. It has to be a priority. Charging a late fee lays this out as a business relationship. You’re not buddies. Tenants will respect you for it in the long run. If they happen to pay rent late and they don’t include the late fee, make sure you notify them in writing that they owe that late fee. You can’t just take it out of the security deposit later if you don’t communicate it in writing.
Posting Notices for Late Rent
If you need to post your Three Day Notice, make sure the notice is proper. Have your eviction attorney review the notice. You’ll get some guidance so you can be sure the notice is prompt, correct, and posted. Then, stay on top of it.
Think of it this way: if a tenant can’t pay one month, why would they be able to pay two months? You’re not doing them a favor by letting it get worse and worse. That doesn’t help. So if things go wrong, stay on top of it. Don’t be lazy, and don’t just be a check casher. Participate in this process. It’s your job as a landlord, and you’ll get better results.