Every landlord wants a tenant who pays rent on time, and if you do a thorough job of tenant screening, you can usually ensure you are getting someone who will pay reliably every month. Late rent payments do occur, however, and you need to have a consistent procedure in place to deal with those situations.
Start with your lease.
Seattle leases must include a section on when rent is due, whether there is a grace period and what late fees will be charged when rent is paid late.
You cannot charge a late fee unless your lease says you will.
Decide on a grace period. Some landlords say that rent is due on the first of the month and then they provide a three-day grace period, meaning tenants must pay by the third of the month or rent is considered late.
Contact your tenants.
When rent does not arrive on the day it is due, contact your tenant to find out what the problem is, and when you can expect to have it. If your otherwise good tenant is simply behind because of an unexpected expense or a loss of hours at work, that tenant will usually be willing to talk to you about the problem and let you know exactly when you’ll have the rent in hand.
If your tenant is unresponsive, or promises to pay go unfulfilled, take further action.
File a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate. The law requires you to deliver this Notice to your tenants in one of three ways:
Personally deliver the notice to your tenant;
Serve the Notice to any adult at the property and then mail a copy to the tenant; or
Post the Notice at the property if no adult answers the door and then mail a copy to the tenant
Always knock on the door before posting the Notice and make sure it’s easy to see and read.
If the three days come and go and you still have not received rent, you’ll need help from an experienced attorney.
If you don’t have the time and the resources to chase down late rent from tenants, consider working with a professional property manager who can do that for you. We’d be happy to help, so contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates.