When you and your tenants sign a lease agreement, you commit to providing a safe and habitable home for your residents to live, and they promise to pay a specific amount of rent every month. If that rent doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to, your tenant is in violation of the lease agreement.
Eviction is your ultimate option, but hopefully it won’t get that far. Today, we’re talking about what you should do when your tenant isn’t paying rent. In L.A. County, you need to follow all the appropriate laws. Stay calm and professional because an emotional response will only escalate the situation unnecessarily.
First Steps: Check Your Lease and Local Laws
Your lease agreement should include everything that pertains to your rent collection policy. Both you and your tenants should be on the same place when it comes to:
- The rental due date.
- The amount of rent that’s due.
- How rent should be paid.
- The consequences of late rent.
Make sure you don’t have a grace period included in your contract. You don’t want to take drastic steps on the second of the month if your lease gives tenants five days after the first of the month before rent is really considered late.
You also need to take the pulse of what might be happening in your city, state, or across the globe. Recently, the coronavirus pandemic placed a moratorium on evictions in California and a number of other states, so a missing rental payment could be part of some natural disaster or a symptom of the stalled economy in which tenants have extra protections.
Next Steps: Communicate with Your Tenant
If rent is missing after the grace period has come and gone, check in with your tenants. Give them a call or send a text or an email. Simply remind them that rent has not been paid and it’s officially overdue. Ask when you can expect it. There’s always the possibility that there was a simple oversight, and it’s possible the residents will catch up right away. Or, they’ll request more time to pay.
If your tenants are having temporary difficulties and they want to pay rent in a week or two weeks, make sure you put a payment arrangement or an agreement in writing. You want to hold the tenants accountable and make sure they pay when they say they’re going to pay.
Send a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit
If you cannot get in touch with your tenants or they do not pay the rent when they said they’d pay it, you need to start the eviction process with a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This gives the tenant a formal notice that they have three days to catch up with the rent or leave the property. The three days are business or court days, so weekends and holidays are not included. After the three days have come and gone, you should have your rent. If you don’t, you’ll need to file for an unlawful detainer, at which point we recommend you seek legal counsel or the help of a qualified Los Angeles property management company.
If you have any questions, or your tenants are routinely late with their rent, please contact our experienced team at Bell Properties.