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What to Do When Rent is Late

For an investment property owner, there is nothing more stressful than receiving rent late. Not only can late rent cause issues for you financially, it automatically creates doubt and suspicion about your tenants. The first 2-3 days might not be so bad, but when you haven’t received rent after 4-5 days, it’s easy to begin to worry. So what’s the best way to handle late rent? What steps should you take first and how can you prevent it from happening again?

Check Lease Agreement

To start with, it’s always a good idea to carefully review the lease agreement you use. Some of the late rent problems that many landlords deal with might be avoided by having a lease agreement that is worded correctly and clear when it comes to rent payment expectations. Re-wording or changing your lease agreement is more of a pre-emptive solution for dealing with late rent. If you’re in a situation where your current tenant is delinquent, remember to keep this step in mind before renewing their lease.

Post a Notice

Once your renter has exceeded any grace periods for paying rent, you need to notify them about the late rent. This is an important step because it lets the tenant know that you are aware of the situation and expect a quick resolution. In some cases, tenants wait until the landlord says something about rent being late before they do anything about it. A written notice can also be helpful if the situation escalates and ends up in court.

Whether you post a notice on the door of the rental home or send it in the mail, make sure that it clearly states that rent is past due and that you expect it to be paid immediately. Be sure to mention any late fees that may be associated and give a warning about what could possibly happen next if you don’t hear anything.

Make a Phone Call

The next step would be calling your tenant directly to find out what is going on. Talking on the phone directly with your tenant is a good way to make sure both parties understand the seriousness of the situation. Avoid calling an excessive number of times as that can be seen as harassment.

Start the Eviction Process

Many landlords are under the impression that the eviction process only starts once a tenant is extremely late on their rent, like 30 days or more. The truth is, evictions can take a long time. The sooner you get started with the process, the better success you will have. Remember that you are within your rights to let the tenant know that if they do not pay rent, you intend on evicting them. Often, this serves as a huge wake-up call to the tenant and may help them to address the issue quickly. However, if there is a problem and your tenant is no longer willing or able to pay rent, you’ll be glad you started the eviction process sooner than later.

Legal Action

Unfortunately, there are some instances when legal action must be taken for unpaid rent. This is the absolute worse case scenario for a property owner as it ends up taking extra time and money. It starts with filing a complaint with the court. If you can’t prove that you’ve posted a notice or attempted to call your tenant to collect rent, you may have to go back and do those things first before the court will take action.

It’s surprising to learn just how many rights a tenant, even one who is behind on rent, is entitled too. Once the eviction process reaches the legal stage, be prepared to spend some time waiting for the court to take action.

RPM East Valley manages hundreds of rental properties throughout the Phoenix metro area. We can help you avoid late rent payments through a number of steps, including our proven tenant screening process and professional lease agreements. Learn more about how we can help you by calling us at (480)719-1243.

So Your Tenants Have Damaged Your Rental Property… What Now?

Most lease agreements include policies that allow for normal wear and tear of the rental property during the course of the lease. However, there are instances when damage occurs that goes beyond normal wear and tear, both accidentally and intentionally. When this sort of damage occurs, it’s important to know who is responsible for repairs and any costs that may be involved.

Having these repairs completed quickly is important, especially if the damage isn’t discovered until the end of a lease. Extensive damages might make the home uninhabitable or undesirable to new tenants. Damage that goes without repair could lead to even more problems down the road.

Security Deposit

Repairs for damage that goes above and beyond normal wear and tear is exactly what the security deposit is in place for. You are well within your rights to apply the security deposit towards the repairs. In some cases, the security deposit alone is enough to cover the cost of repair. There are situations where the deposit is not enough – this is when things can be difficult.

Thorough Inspection

The first thing you will want to do is thoroughly examine the damage. Any information you can obtain from the tenant about how the damage occurred and what caused it can be helpful. In some cases, the damage may have happened without the tenant even knowing. Be sure to take pictures of the damage so you have visual documentation.

Communicate Next Steps

Once you’ve identified the damage and have an understanding of how it occurred, you need to be very clear with your tenant about what steps you will be taking next to have the damage repaired. Let the tenant know that you will be gathering estimates and that the person who will be doing the repairs will need access to the property. Most lease agreements state that the property owner is allowed to enter for repairs.

Let the tenant know that you will pay for the repair they caused upfront and then send a bill for the tenant to repay you. It’s a good idea to communicate this both verbally and in writing so that you have record of it.

Send a Copy of the Bill to the Tenant

After the repair has been completed, make sure you keep a copy of the bill and send it to your tenant. It’s a good idea to include a letter with the copy of the bill explaining what it is for and why you are sending it. Be sure to specify in the letter that the repair is now complete and give your tenant a reasonable amount of time to pay for the damages.

Additional Steps if Your Tenant Does Not Respond

If the deadline for payment of the repair expires, prepare another letter for your tenant giving notice that if they do not comply and pay the bill, you will have no choice but to pursue legal action. This is usually done through small claims court. Again, provide a realistic and reasonable amount of time for payment to be made and indicate this in your letter. If your tenant still refuses to pay after 2 notices, you may have to file a suit with the court. You’ll be glad you have records of every step you took along the way to prove how you handled the situation.

Hopefully, your tenant will take responsibility and pay for the damages they caused immediately so you can avoid the extra steps described above. Professional property management company, RPM East Valley has over 20 years of experience in property management. We provide services such as applicant screenings and lease agreements that help you find the best tenants. When damages occur, you can turn the process over to us and let us handle it for you so you don’t have to deal with the paperwork or stress.

Find out how we can help you manage your rental by giving us a call at 480-719-1243.

Make Your Rental Property More Attractive to Families

For many investment property owners, renting to a family is the best possible scenario. Families tend to renew leases more frequently and are more reliable and less of a risk than other types of renters. The trick is maintaining your property in a way that draws in families in search of a new home. Here are some ideas on how to make your rental property more attractive to families:

1. A Good Kitchen

Families tend to cook and eat in their home more than singles or even couples with no children. Because it’s not always feasible for families to go out to eat regularly, they need a good kitchen with the right appliances and amenities for preparing, serving and eating meals. Keeping your kitchen clean and with the updated appliances will make your kitchen more attractive to potential family tenants.

2. Bigger is Better

No matter how big a family is, there always seems to be a need for more space. As a property owner, the better you are at maximizing the space in your rental home, the more attractive it will be to families. You can do this by using light colored paint throughout the home, which always gives the illusion of space. Flooring should logically flow from one room to the next. Abrupt changes in flooring tend to make the home feel smaller and more confined. You should also be careful about the furniture you use when staging a home. Big and bulky furniture takes up space and makes living areas feel smaller.

3. Safe and Sound

Parents are always on the lookout for the safety of their children, especially in the home they are considering. It’s worth pointing out any and all safety features in your home as you show it to prospective tenants. This would include fire and smoke alarms, window locks, non-slip flooring in bathrooms and pool fences to name a few. Be sure to remove any items or objects that might be considered hazardous for children.

4. Maintain Your Yard

Kids love to play outdoors in the yard, both front and back. Be sure to keep the yards and gardens of your rental property in tip-top shape when showing it to prospective tenants. You can bet that parents will be paying close attention to the yards, looking for any potential hazards and contemplating the upkeep. The front yard should always look good to give your home the right curb appeal. And nothing is more inviting to a family with children than a clean and well-kept backyard.

5. The Laundry Room

Families will obviously be using the laundry room frequently, which is why it never hurts to keep it looking clean and organized. If a washer and dryer are included in the lease, be sure they are modern and in good working order. Be sure that any shelves or countertops in the laundry room are in good shape and presentable.

Believe it or not, this can be a bigger selling point than you might think. For more ideas on how to make your property attractive to families, give RPM East Valley a call. We have years of experience in managing properties across the Phoenix area and are happy to share our insight.

Keep the Bed Bugs Away

As rental property owner, it’s important that you keep your rental home in tip-top shape for both those who live there now and to attract future renters. This includes keeping up with any needed repairs and maintenance as well as keeping bugs and pests away.

One big concern many homeowners face is bed bug infestation. You may have already faced this challenge in one of your properties or even in your own home. Bed bugs are a nuisance and can cause major problems if they are not handled correctly.

It’s easy to get stressed out when you find out that your rental property has bed bugs. You may find yourself blaming the current or previous tenants or trying to find excuses for why they are there. Unfortunately, worrying about how they got there isn’t going to make them go away. What you need to do is take action to have the bed bugs removed and then take precautionary steps to ensure they don’t show up again.

Call An Exterminator

Bed bugs are nasty little creatures that infest beds, couches and carpet. They are sometimes difficult to detect, but their bites can be painful and annoying. The first thing you need to do once you find out your rental home has bed bugs is call an exterminator as soon as possible. You may already have a relationship with an exterminator that you use on a regular basis. If not, it may be a good idea to look for one that specializes in bed bugs.

Experience is a plus when it comes to choosing an exterminator. Be sure to ask them about the process they use to get rid of bed bugs, including follow up treatments. You may find that bed bug removal is a little more expensive than an exterminators normal fee, but it is worth it.

Prevent Future Incidents

In the state of Arizona, the law states that bed bugs are the tenant’s responsibility, unless the tenant can prove that bed bugs were present before they moved in. Still, it is a good idea to be involved as the property owner. If you sit back and count on your tenants to take care of the issue, you may face even bigger problems down the road.

You can do your part to prevent bed bugs by having your property treated and inspected on a regular basis. Routine pest control visits will keep you alerted to any problems that may arise. It’s also important to keep areas in and around the property as clean as possible.

Be sure to address bed bugs in the lease you have tenants sign so there is no confusion as to who should be addressing the issue. You’ll want your renters to be crystal clear on their responsibilities so there are no surprises.

Keeping your rental property well maintained and occupied can be a big job that takes up quite a bit of time. If you find that you struggle to keep up with everything involved in owning a rental home, consider using an expert property management firm like RPM East Valley. We serve investment property owners throughout the Phoenix area and are ready to help you!

2015 Visitors’ Choice Award

Real Property Management East Valley is please to announce that it has been given the 2015 Visitors’ Choice Award by All Property Management. We are extremely grateful for the award and recognition and would like to thank All Property Management, as well as our amazing staff that works so hard to keep our clients happy.

A message from All Property Management:

“This award indicates that your company was one of the most frequently selected property management companies by the millions of visitors AllPropertyManagement.com received in 2015. As All Property Management is the Internet’s foremost intermediary between property management companies and the property owners and association board members who need their services, winning this award signifies that your property management company is one of the most popular in the entire country.”