Collecting rent on time is an essential element in a successful and profitable rental experience. As the property owner, you count on that rental payment to keep up with your mortgage, taxes, insurance, and other related expenses. If rent is late, your entire financial blueprint can be thrown into chaos.

An effective rent collection policy is important, not only because you need that money to keep coming in consistently, but also because eviction should be your last resort. This year has seen an eviction moratorium in California and across the country. It’s created a backlog of eviction filings in the court system, and you’re going to be waiting a long time to get your property back if you do decide to evict.

Try these rent collection tips, and contact a Redwood City property manager if you’re still having trouble getting your tenants to pay on time.

Set Rent Collection Policies and Expectations in the Lease Agreement

Make your expectations clear before your tenants even move into your property.

When you’re discussing and signing the lease agreement, talk about when rent is due, how you expect it to be paid, and what the consequences are if it’s paid late. Let them know if there’s a grace period. All of this should also be documented in the lease agreement.

We’ve found that providing a variety of ways to pay rent can motivate your tenants to pay on time. If you only accept mailed checks, you may face late rental payments because no one uses checks anymore and it’s hard to find a stamp. Offer online or electronic rental payments.

Communicate Openly with Redwood City Tenants

You might have noticed that your tenants tend to avoid you and your phone calls when their rent is late. It’s important to establish a relationship that’s open and respectful so they’re willing to talk to you. If rent is going to be late, you’re better off hearing about it before the first of the month. All late fees should still apply, but you want your tenants to feel comfortable communicating with you if there’s a problem in a particular month.

Reach out to your tenant if the rent is late and try and find out what the problem is. Be professional and kind. Usually, you can rectify the issue, especially if it’s an otherwise good tenant. If the rent is going to be late, set a date for the rent to be paid.

Consistency is Critical with Rent Collection

If the late rent does eventually come in, make sure the late fee has been included and thank the tenants for keeping their promise to pay. Use this opportunity to reinforce your expectations moving forward. Don’t let your tenants think that by accepting rent late one month, you’re going to be okay with them paying whenever they want going forward. Consistency is important.

Nonpayment of rent is considered just-cause for eviction in California. While it’s always better to avoid eviction, be prepared for it in case rent never does come in or your tenant is non-responsive. Serve a Pay or Quit Notice so you’re formally informing your tenants that rent has not been paid and they either need to catch up or leave the property.

Good communication, solid and consistent policies, and an understanding of leasing and landlord/tenant laws will help you collect rent on time every month. If you’d like some help with rent collection or anything pertaining to Redwood City property management, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Five Star Property Management.