Communication is Key in Dealing with Non Paying Tenants


communication is key in getting a non paying tenant outI recently wrote a post about my friend, the one that every tenant loves, that has tenants that hadn’t paid him rent in over 5 months. Well, here’s an update.

The article indicated that my friend is the most lenient landlord in the world.  He has a weak spot in his heart and lets tenants go for months without paying. He’s too nice to be a landlord, and he knows I feel this way about him because we’ve  talked about it.

He has tenants that haven’t paid him rent in over 5 months now.  Yes, they’ve sent him a payment here and there, but not enough to touch their almost 6 month arrearage to him.  I told him it was time to get them out.  They are nice people that have fallen on tough times. They have been with him for nearly 4 years, and did remain current, until he lost his job. But, I reminded him that he is not a charity.  Every month they don’t pay, he has to reach into his pocket and pull the money out to remain current on his existing mortgage.

We agreed it was time to get a good paying tenant in the house. So, it was time to serve them a 3 day notice, notifying them they must pay, or he would start formal eviction proceedings.

I learned years ago, that if the tenant is approachable, people that you can talk reasonably to, then talking to them first is best.  I know we always try to rent to tenants that we feel we will have a good working relationship with, however, often that changes when they fall on hard times.  Some become belligerent, as one of my last tenants did and there is no reasoning with them.

I asked my friend if I could go and talk to his tenant before we posted his 3 day notice, as my friend is currently out of state.  So, I did.  I went over and knocked on the door, and asked if I could have a few minutes of their time. 

I told them that I was there to help them. 

They told me they had each lost their jobs, one after another, and couldn’t find work. I explained that the landlord could no longer afford to keep them in the house, and that he had no alternative but to ask them to move.  He was afraid he was going to become delinquent on the payments, then they wouldn’t have a place to live anyway.  They understood. This tenant was on a month to month lease. I explained that they could move on their own accord or the landlord would be left with no choice but to file formal eviction proceedings.  The eviction would go on their credit.  They said they were filing their income taxes that week. And they would get in touch with the landlord.

Well, that was a couple of weeks ago. The tenant sent the landlord a payment for one month’s rent.  They called me on Friday and asked me to stop by.  I did. They are moving out. They will be completely out by the end of the weekend.  He has volunteered to clean the carpets, mow the yard and he would like to paint the interior of the property.  (I know the tenant has good intentions, and we’ll see if any of these things get done. Unlikely.)

Now, not trying to play Monday morning quarterback here, but had this landlord spoken to his tenants as soon as they got in arrears, he may have been able to solve this problem earlier.  If they couldn’t pay, then perhaps they could have left 4 months earlier and he may have had the property re rented already. (He knows this, as we have spoken about it.)

In finally communicating with this tenant, the landlord has saved himself more money…$320 in eviction fees. If they filed a protest to the eviction, it could take an additional month to get them out, so he has saved himself 2 months in time, and 2 more months of lost rent.  He gets the property back today. 

The landlord was not intending to file a deficiency judgement against this tenant for back rent, anyway, as he felt he couldn’t get blood out of a turnip.  That would have required a court date, which could have strung the eviction out to a full 3 months or more, with an additional loss of $1950 in unpaid rent. He has their security deposit from when they moved in.

This tenant benefits because he will not have an eviction on his permanent record.

There is also always the fear that a tenant will tear a property up, and cause thousands in damage during the eviction proceedings,  if they decide to become difficult.  I have heard of one tenant that poured bags of cement down all the drains and both toilets in a house. It caused thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage to all the pipes. It was horrible!

It is essential in landlord/tenant relationships that the lines of communication remain open, whenever possible.  It’s a win/win for both parties.


This article is authored by

Sandy Shores, Brevard County Real Estate

Melbourne Florida Real Estate News


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