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How to Handle a Tenant That Won’t Pay Rent

Landlord Attorney
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One of the most common reasons for a landlord tenant dispute is a tenant that refuses to pay rent. However, the situation does not always need to escalate to a formal dispute. There are several steps a landlord can take to secure payment before pursuing legal recourse. If the following steps prove unsuccessful, a Miami landlord and tenant lawyer can help the property owner seek justice through the proper legal channel.

1. Screen Prospective Tenants Thoroughly

The first step to receiving rent payments on time is to have a responsible tenant. Landlords who neglect to check the credit history of prospective tenants may be in for an unfortunate surprise if that history shows a pattern of not paying bills on time.

2. Establish Late Fees

The signed lease should outline a payment schedule, with a clear penalty for not paying rent on time. Whether the landlord chooses to consider payments late immediately after they were due or allows for a grace period, this should be explicitly noted in the document. Likewise, the fee should be stated.

3. Communicate

Aside from having a thorough lease signed by all adult occupants, a landlord should have regular communication with tenants regarding rent. It is beneficial to send tenants reminders that rent is due via email to ensure one is covered is a legal dispute arises. Also, if tenants are late or simply have questions about rent payments, it is important that landlords communicate promptly and professionally, citing specific policies outlined in the lease.

4. Don’t Set a Bad Precedent

No matter how reasonable the tenants excuse, it is important that landlords never let bad behavior slide. This is a key reason why renting to family and friends is often a bad idea. Even the closest landlord/tenant relationships should be professional in nature. If a landlord allows for rent to be late once, it is likely to happen again.

5. Issue a 72-Hour Written Notice

Serving a written notice that expresses intent to terminate the rental agreement is the final step a landlord can take to secure payment, aside from a formal dispute. This notice will advise the tenant that if rent is not paid within the timeframe, residency will be terminated. The document should be personally delivered to the tenant to guarantee its receipt.

If following these steps does not result in the tenant curing his or her debt, the next step will be to file a formal dispute and pursue eviction. A Miami landlord and tenant lawyer can guide you through this process to ensure the ideal outcome.

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