Most landlords have late fees they charge when a tenant is late with rent. That’s a good policy, but what is more important than late fees is getting your rent paid as soon as possible. You need to have a consistent policy in place when it comes to late rent. More importantly, you have to treat all of your tenants the same. You cannot let some tenants be late and then impose late fees on other tenants. That will get you in legal and logistical trouble.

If you have managed or owned rental property for a while, you have probably heard every excuse in the book when it comes to tenants who pay rent late. Everyone has a legitimate excuse once in a while, and you can be understanding as a landlord, but you also have to be consistent and you have to let your tenants know that you expect rent to be paid on time, every time.

Some landlords have grace periods, but we do not at Cavalier Estates. Rent is due on the first of the month for all of our tenants, and if the second day of the month rolls around and rent has not been paid yet, that means it is late. We see the entire month before as being one giant grace period, and the idea that tenants need an additional three or five days of “grace” is unreasonable. All of our tenants know that we expect rent on the first.

Our 3 Day Notice goes to the tenant as soon as rent is late, which means on the second day of the month. The 3 Day Notice requires the tenant to immediately pay rent or leave the property. Tampa landlords have the option of mailing, delivering or posting their 3 Day Notice. If you are in a state other than Florida, make sure you know your local and state laws because different things are permitted in each state. At Cavalier Estates, our practice is to physically deliver the notice. We will knock on the tenant’s door and serve the 3 Day Notice. Tenants might want to pay all or some of their rent on the spot. If a partial payment is made, you can accept it, but you must keep that 3 Day Notice in effect until the full rent is paid.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 2.54.54 PMTenants do not usually like to get the 3 Day Notice, so once we deliver it, we find that rent shows up almost immediately. Make your tenants think they will be evicted immediately if that rent isn’t paid. If you have read our other blogs, you know that we work very hard to avoid eviction. However, the tenants who are late with rent do not need to know that. If a tenant says he will pay on the fifth or the sixth, that’s fine. However, keep the notice in place until you have collected all of the rent.

Be consistent about your rent collection and don’t let your tenants take advantage of you. If you need more information on how to handle tenants who are late with rent, contact us at Cavalier Estates, and we’d be happy to talk to you.