If all of your tenants always pay their rent in full and on time, then count yourself lucky – for now – because it’s not going to last. Every single landlord will deal with rent issues. So what are your options if a tenant cannot pay the rent? You have three roads to choose from.

Disclosure – Because we have such a powerful marketing system, we rarely consider anything other than a quick eviction.  However, for those who may not have the ability to quickly remove then replace a tenant it is possible a more understanding approach could be beneficial.

Choice #1: The Hard Road – Eviction

You are going to come across the deadbeat tenants that will feed you that sad story of why they don’t have the rent and then next month there is another excuse… and another … and another. If your tenant cannot pay the rent, eviction is just the easiest route to deal with a perpetual problem.

The lease agreement states that if the rent is not received within so many days then the landlord can file for eviction. You can legally stick to the letter of the law and show no tolerance.

Choice #2: The Soft Road – The Loss

Another option if your tenant cannot pay is to take the soft road. Maybe you find out that the husband just left and the stay-at-home mom who takes such great care of her three kids is heartbroken and now has to find work. Your heart goes out to them and their situation. You decide to waive one month’s rent to help her get on her feet. It is a considerate thing to do. If you evict, it would only add to her stress and you would lose at least a month’s rent anyway.

While some situations can call for a soft approach, travel this road carefully and infrequently. If you are perceived as a softy by your tenants, then you must prepare yourself to become a doormat. You will always have sob stories, excuses, and late rent.

Choice #3: The Middle Road – Compromise

The third choice, and perhaps the most common, is the middle ground. Eviction is not the first and only choice and neither is giving up the income. There is a lot of middle ground here for some sort of payment arrangement if your tenant can’t pay the rent on the due date. Here are a few options to choose from:

  • Pay Late: Some tenants will have the rent money by the end of the month, but not on the first. Fine, as long as you get it before the next rent is due. As a penalty for poor financial management, feel free to charge a late fee.
  • Change the Lease: If your tenant gets paid on a day other than the first of every month, consider changing the due date of the lease. Suppose they receive their pension on the 15th, then why not make the rent due then. You will have a better chance of getting paid in full and on time. Just make sure to pro-rate the rent for the month the due date changes.
  • Pay Half: It is possible that the tenant just ran into a temporary snag. Why not consider having them pay half this month and the other half out of the next paycheck or at the next rent payment. Make sure they sign an extra little agreement and that they know this is a temporary arrangement.
  • We would recommend that the landlord or their agent meet with the tenant at their home. Keep an eye out for new and expensive purchases. If they cannot pay the $650 in rent but you see a new $800 flat-screen TV, you will undoubtedly handle things differently. Hear them out but don’t be afraid to wait a day or so before giving them the answer. Make them sweat a little so you don’t look like a pushover, but instead the understanding landlord.

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