Being a landlord is a lot of work. Whether you own a single apartment building or a number of varying properties, your responsibilities never seem to end. Tenant complaints and routine maintenance — not to mention the work it takes to find and secure reliable tenants in the first place — occupy a great amount of your time. Add in the nitty-gritty financial and legal aspects, and you’ve got quite a workload.
Unfortunately, your tenants aren’t always as hardworking as you are. For one reason or another, they might not be able to get the rent to you on time, complicating your busy life even further. As a key pillar of your business (after all, you have your own bills to pay, with their own due dates), it can be a struggle to figure out how to handle the situation — and how to ensure it never happens again. In addition to finding a good landlord guide with some advice, the following three tips can help you get the ball rolling.
- Always have a late fee. Actions must have consequences. Including a late fee clause in the rental agreement not only establishes the rules to your tenants from the very beginning, but it forces you to treat them all the same; no matter how much you love (or loathe) certain renters, you should never be tempted to waive or increase the late fee. If it truly is a one-time deal, the loss won’t hurt your tenants too much; if it isn’t, you’re still able to be compensated for the trouble. If the behavior persists, you’ll be legally justified to take further action.
- Communicate clearly with your tenants. Communication is essential in the landlord-tenant relationship. It prevents frustration, anger, and confusion down the line. When your renters know precisely what is expected of them — and precisely what will happen if they fail to abide by the rules and due dates — issues can be resolved much quicker. A lack of communication breeds conflict and can lead to a tense, uncomfortable relationship. While you don’t need to be (and, in fact, shouldn’t be) friends with your tenants, it’s obvious that everything goes a lot smoother when both parties are professional and respectful to each other.
- Be consistent. This tip applies to all aspects of landlord life, although it can be difficult to enforce. It’s exceptionally easy to go easy on late rental payments once you hear an explanation; whether it’s because of a personal tragedy, financial woes, or simple forgetfulness, maintaining your professional distance is vital. But once your consistency is established, you’ll be less likely to be burdened by tenants seeking special treatment or making special requests.
Owning a rental property comes with a great number of risks, but can be quite profitable if you know what you’re doing. Collecting rent and getting paid on time is essential to your success; you can read all the laws and legislation regarding the Fair Housing Act and rental agreements, but if you’re unable to process payments from your tenants, you’ll end up stuck with no way forward.
Rather than struggle with the frustrations that accompany such an awful situation, tackle the problem head-on. When you establish clear financial consequences for late rent payments, openly communicate and reinforce the rules, and keep your behavior consistent (and professional), you’ll be happy at what a difference it makes. At the end of the day, your tenants will have a landlord they respect and you will have tenants who you can trust to pay on time, every time.