Landlord Law: Your Options if Your Tenant Stops Paying

Being a landlord can be a very rewarding occupation. Whether this is your sole source of income, or you just rent out one property for some extra income each month, many people love this line of work. If you are a landlord for long enough, however, you will always run into a tenant who stops paying. Whether it is because they lost their job, got into trouble, or just didn’t want to pay, you have to deal with it quickly and correctly. The following are some key options you have available so you can legally obtain payment, or at least remove them from your property so you can get a new tenant moved in.

Start with a Conversation

The first step should always be to talk with your tenant. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation for both parties, many problems can be resolved through a simple conversation. In some situations, a conversation can help you to understand why they have stopped paying, and allow you to better weigh your options. Of course, no matter what they say during the conversation, you need to be taking steps to get the money you are owed, so you very well may need to move on to one of the next options.

Offer Payment Options

If they are only a little late and they report that they had a one-time event that caused them to get behind on bills, you have the option to give them payment options to get caught up. For example, allowing them to pay a quarter of the month’s rent each week to get caught up, that may work for you and for them. Just make sure that they have a plan in place to make next month’s payment too, or you may just be delaying the inevitable.

Let Them Leave Early

If your tenant says that they can no longer afford the rent, you can offer to let them out of their contract early. In some cases, it even makes sense to let them break their lease without any type of penalty. While they may be violating their contract with you, if you can get them to move out right away you can save money on legal fees, delays in evicting them, and much more. An early lease termination is, in many situations, best for both parties.

Send a Pay or Quit Notice

If your tenant hasn’t paid their rent on time, you can always begin the process of getting them out of your property. A pay or quit notice is the first step in this process, and it will let them know that they need to pay their rent in full within a set number of days, or you will terminate their lease and they will have to move out. If the tenant is able to get caught up within that time period, then the problem is solved. If not, you’ll need to move on to eviction.

Evicting Tenants

If the tenant won’t pay, and they won’t leave voluntarily, then you’ll have to move forward with an eviction action. This is a legal process where you petition the courts to force the tenant out. Once the paperwork is filed with the courts, you can typically have a hearing quite quickly. As long as you follow the normal processes, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting the courts to approve the eviction. The local sheriff will then schedule a time to come out and physically remove them from your property, if they won’t go on their own.

The Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A. has helped many Miami-area landlords navigate the issues that arise with owning rental properties. If you need help with any step in this process, please contact us to get the representation you need.