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Steps For Handling A Tenant Who Won’t Pay Rent

Owning rental property is a common way to make some extra cash. In fact, some wise investors accumulate enough properties to support themselves on the rent. Of course, this depends on if the tenants actually pay the rent.

Whether you own one duplex or a dozen residential and commercial properties, tenants are the common factor in the success or failure of your investment. If you have a good screening process and are fortunate, you can end up with renters who are respectful of your property and compliant with your regulations, including the due date for rent. However, what do you do when rent is no longer a priority for one of your tenants?

Is it time to evict?

Anyone may fall on hard times. Someone who loses a job, goes through a divorce or faces a medical emergency may have difficulty paying the rent. Nevertheless, you can’t assume your tenant’s failure to pay is a temporary setback. In fact, other property owners may confirm that leniency with a tenant who is late on the rent may mark you as a landlord who doesn’t enforce payment policies. Many landlords agree that the following steps can effectively deal with a nonpaying tenant:

  • Have clear policies for late payment in the rental agreement all tenants must sign.
  • Visit your tenant personally to find out why the rent is late.
  • Instead of offering an extension, offer to release your tenant from the lease if he or she moves out within a certain time, such as a week.
  • Gently remind your tenant that your rental agreement gives you the right to start the eviction process for nonpayment.
  • If the above do not prompt your tenant to come up with the rent, send your tenant a “pay or quit” notice, which gives him or her three days to pay what is due or to vacate.
  • After the deadline passes, you must file an eviction notice with the local Kansas court.
  • You may not forcibly evict a tenant yourself, shut off utilities or change the locks on a unit a tenant still occupies; the court must authorize the sheriff to assist with this.

It is possible that your “pay or quit” notice will prompt the tenant to just leave, in which case you should seek legal advice about what to do with any property the tenant leaves behind and how to handle any damage or deposit issues. In fact, having an attorney’s assistance from the earliest stages of dealing with a nonpaying renter may save you many headaches.

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