How Can You Solve Late or Partial Payment Problems?

Some tenants may delay payment or only make a partial payment. A late or partial payment may be the most common problem in property management.

Here’s some advice on how to solve the problem of late or partial payment:

First, you should make it clear when you sign the lease that there is no leeway for late payment penalties—that the account must include late fees in the year-end cash flow. Along those lines, some landlords simply say the fine is "built into the accounting system," which avoids last-minute begging and pleading. Above all, tenants should never think that the consequences of late payments are negotiable.

The best advice for dealing with late payers is to stand firm. When late payments reach the point where you need to take action according to your lease, it’s worth giving the tenant a phone call or sending an email beforehand as a polite warning. Then, when that day comes, stick to your lease, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Serve legal notice that you intend to begin the eviction process:Notice periods for nonpayment of rent will vary from state to state. In New Mexico, for example, tenants have three days to make restitution, while in Illinois, tenants have five days. Inform your tenant that they can avoid eviction by paying outstanding rent during the notice period.

If you are still owed money after the eviction, sue your tenant for court costs and unpaid rent. Depending on the amount owed, you can sue in small claims court. Consult an attorney specializing in rental laws in your state for a judgement on unpaid rent and for details of acceptable collection practices.