Throughout 2020, we saw more renters struggle to pay the rent than any other time in recent history. However, even without a pandemic or nationwide economic challenges, rental property owners will always deal with renters who either can't (or won't) pay the rent on time (or at all) in Metro Atlanta.
Your Atlanta rental property is an investment in your future. Without residents paying the rent on time every month, your investment becomes an expensive liability—and that's not why you chose to become a real estate investor. You know that lost income doesn't support your long-term financial goals—but what can you do if renters don't pay their rent?
The way you handle late rental payments can impact your success as a rental property owner. As professional property managers in the Greater Atlanta area, we help investors collect the rent every month—even while navigating the challenges of this critical task. Here are our best tips for handling renters who delay or withhold rental payments.
Note: This article is not legal counsel! When you need help collecting rent, reach out to your attorney about your options or the expert full-service property management professionals at Revolution Rental Management, formerly known as GTL Real Estate.
Maintain Excellent Documentation
Residents don't pay the rent for a variety of reasons. Whether they are struggling financially or they're just a bad renter who refuses to pay, one thing always remains true for every situation: the rent is still due on time. That's why if the rent ever comes late, we make sure our property owners are paid the very same week it comes in—instead of the following month.
Excellent documentation that prevents this from happening starts with an ironclad lease agreement. When choosing a new renter for your Atlanta rental property, make sure your lease includes:
- Clear expectations about rental payment due dates and amounts
- Fees for late payments (and the schedule for assessing these fees)
- Details about eviction procedures if a renter fails to pay the rent and any applicable fees.
The lease becomes the guide to enforcing the rules and collecting the rent when a resident misses a payment. As you work through the procedures documented in the lease, keep track of every communication, and add those notes to your documentation regarding a late or missing payment. Keep a record of every notice that you send to the renter and their responses (or lack of response).
If the situation progresses without receiving the rental payment, you'll need this detailed documentation to support a case for eviction and recovering compensation (if necessary).
Stay Calm and Compassionate
During difficult financial times, compassion can be a valuable part of maintaining good relationships with your renters. Whether economic challenges affect several of your residents or just one, staying calm and listening to your renters helps improve a late rental payment situation.
As a Metro Atlanta rental property owner, you have flexibility in how you enforce the lease rules about paying the rent. When you recognize that you have a bad renter who is simply taking advantage of an economic crisis, enforcing the rules and late fees is generally appropriate. However, if a renter can't pay the rent due to job or income loss, offering short-term arrangements can help you get paid while showing struggling residents that you care.
Work With Your Renters
Generating income from your Atlanta rental property is essential, and maintaining excellent relationships is the best way to boost your long-term income. Sometimes working with your renters on a rent payment schedule or delaying late fees helps everyone win while building a positive experience for residents as they rebuild their income.
Be careful about becoming a 'pushover.' Compassion is critical, but investors should never put themselves into a worse financial situation to help renters when they can't pay the rent. However, setting up a graduating payment plan can help renters mitigate income loss for a month or two while still delivering the full amount of rent they owe by the end of the lease term.
Seek Legal Help When It's Merited
Your compassion should only go so far with an Atlanta renter who simply refuses to pay the rent. When residents take advantage of an economic crisis or use any other reasons to forego the lease rules, your flexibility should quickly come to an end.
Before evicting a renter, consult your legal counsel or your full-service property management company. Follow the law in Atlanta to ensure the proper timing for eviction and protect your investments and income. The reality is that eviction should always be your last resort: our eviction rate in 2019 was only 1.67% compared to the Atlanta average of 5.12%. Alternative solutions are possible—but you need an expert to pull them off.
Hire a Property Manager to Collect the Rent
Collecting the rent isn't an option when you own an Atlanta rental property. Hiring a property manager takes the stress off of investors when renters delay or withhold rental payments—for any reason.
- The property management team of Revolution Rental Management, formerly known as GTL Real Estate provides guaranteed solutions that take the risk out of being a rental property owner.
- We provide an absolute guarantee that you’ll receive your rental payments no later than the 11th of each month.
- If a resident doesn't pay on time, we pay you out of our own pocket while working with your renters to get them caught up.
With our expert property management services, we keep our eviction rate lower than the local average because it's better for your income when we choose high-quality renters and collect the rent. When renters don't pay the rent, let us help! Contact us to learn more.