Tenants can be late on rent for a variety of reasons, so most leases give a few days of leeway so that tenants don't find themselves constantly paying late fees. At times, however, a tenant will not pay the rent for several weeks, and a landlord must send letters requesting payment of both the rent and a late fee. If this continues, a landlord may have no choice but to begin the eviction process.
Read the lease to make sure the tenant is definitely in breach of the agreement. The lease should also state the procedure you and the tenant agreed upon in case of a late or missing payment (late fees and eviction timetables, for example). Checking the lease will help you to ensure that you are acting within your rights.
Find your state's eviction laws. Each state has different laws governing evictions, so the process will differ depending on your location.
Write a single-page letter to remind your tenant that his payment is overdue or missing. Cite the lease agreement directly, and mention any late fees he will need to pay. This letter should also give the tenant a deadline to remit payment.
Send a second letter if you have not received payment by the date indicated on the first letter. Remind your tenant that his payment is overdue, and that further nonpayment will result in eviction, as indicated in your lease agreement.
Prepare a "Notice to Quit" or formal eviction notice. Depending on the state, this may require a specific form (available at the courthouse). Whether you send a form or a letter, it should give the tenant three days from receipt of the notice to vacate the property. Send this by certified mail, and request a return receipt to ensure that your tenant received the notice.
Take your tenant to court if he fails to vacate the property after receiving notice. Make sure to keep a signed copy of the lease for court proceedings.
- The process of evicting a tenant can become messy and tedious. If your tenant explains the situation and is willing to work with you, try to avoid eviction.
- All correspondence with your tenant should be typewritten.
- Save a copy of each letter for your records.
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images