Most landlords start out with the best of intentions when it comes to a rent collection policy. In fact, if you’ve taken the time to have a policy professionally drawn up by a real estate attorney, then you are definitely on the right track. Unfortunately, things go wrong, and for landlords, especially busy property investors with other responsibilities, enforcing the rent collection policy is where things usually go wrong. If you need help, the following tips will get you started.
Make Sure You Have a Policy
Having a fully legal rent collection policy allows you to enforce it in the court of law if necessary. This means drawing up a document with your full rent policy including rates, amount that you can increase the rent per year, how much time tenants have to pay, when you will send an eviction notice in case of failure to pay, when rent is due, how you accept payment, your policy on bounced checks and charges, and your policy on late fees. If it is in writing and part of the leasing contract that your tenant signed, they are legally bound to follow it, so long as it does not contradict local Kirkland city or Washington State laws. Your best bet is to have a professional real estate attorney help you with this.
Tenants are Late Paying the Rent
Depending on your rent collection policy, you may or may not have written in standards explaining what happens if the tenant is late. Standard options, if you used a basic template, include either late fees for paying late or sending an eviction notice. The best policy is to use a late fee after the fifth late day, and then continue charging a late fee per day or every two days that the tenant is late. You can serve a 3-day eviction notice the day after the rent is late if you like, but full evictions typically take three weeks.
The best way to make sure that you get paid and paid on time is to ensure that it is easy to pay the rent. Most landlords use checks, online services such as online Bill Pay, automatic bank transfers, or even services like PayPal, although the last is not recommended because they do charge a fee. The more units you manage, the more you want to ensure that every tenant pays you in the same way to make sure that it is as easy as possible to keep up with who has paid and who has not. You’ll also want to use a method that leaves a concrete receipt of you having received the payment.
If your tenant gives you a bad check, you can legally charge them the fees or take it out of their security deposit. You should write this into your rent collection policy. You can also charge a late fee or serve an eviction if they do not remedy the bounced check, as they have technically not yet paid.
If you don’t have the time to enforce your own rental collection policy or collect rent, you should consider a local Kirkland property management company. A property manager will handle all of your rental management including collecting the rent, so you don’t have to worry about anything. Contact Sterling Johnston for more information on our local property management services.