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Overdue Rent – Getting Tenants to Pay

February 14, 2024

How to Get Renters to Pay Rent

When tenants are consistently late paying rent or seemingly can’t pay it, you’re being on the spot. Politely encouraging tenants to pay is an important soft skill in 2024.

Landlords are asking more about this problem and how to deal with it proactively and with a professional and polite demeanor. This may be the better route to collecting without reporting to credit agencies, sending it a collection agency, or beginning the eviction process.

When They Can’t or Won’t Pay

If your tenant doesn’t contact you or take your calls, it might be they’re embarrassed or mentally unable/hopeless to face up to their situation. It’s not always a case of them intending to miss payment after payment. It’s wise to keep notes on your rent roll and create a communications strategy to keep your tenants feeling empowered. It’s also smart to adopt a automated rent payment process to make payment easy and encourage them to take control of their rent obligations.

However, if you’re not on top of the situation, it can mean a payment or two held back for a long time while they get their finances in order.  And it can slide into a dangerous financial situation for both of you.

When checks bounce or a rent payment is missed, a positive, polite approach can help you give them the lift they need to get their overdue payments up to date.

Eviction Filings Increasing

Sadly, evictions have been increasing. Whether rent prices rise or fall, affordability is creating a rent crisis.  Tenants under pressure will be ending their leases and creating rent payment delays and defaults.

Governments, the economy and housing market are creating the problem.  And when some stressed tenants face tough circumstances, they may likely stop paying rent right away or just leave the unit (similar to the Pandemic).

Here are the immediate soft skills you can use to encourage rent:

  • review your rules on rent payment and your plan to deal with later payors and non-payors
  • review the tenant’s history, work and salary
  • prepare yourself to be polite, encouraging and positive in this first engagement with them on this matter
  • call them via phone and create a conversation that is down to earth and non-judgmental or demanding
  • use friendly, positive words and topics that don’t make them back off
  • ask them for more information about why the payment was missed
  • chat with them about how they’ve been steady and successful and that they will likely surmount this challenge too — to put them in the right frame of mind to manage their finances
  • ask them about how their situation looks and whether they can reasonably pay future rent
  • tell them you understand their situation and you want to help them deal with the situation
  • in a friendly, helpful manner negotiate a payment date for the owed amount (collaborate with them)
  • encourage them to go to a family member to get over this temporary matter
  • encourage them to go to community resources to see if they can help
  • tell them to call you if they need help

Instinctively, and based on their history and your conversations with them, you likely know how this will go.  It’s important to build your communications strategy proactively beforehand to coach your renters on being good tenants.

Using Digital Media to Persuade Tenants

Via your tenant ManageCasa™ communications portal, website and newsletters, you can encourage a positive mood so the tenant doesn’t react unwisely and refuse to pay.

You train them to view and manage their situation professionally. When they visualize eviction, they’re more likely to make rational, sound decisions to keep their life in order.

Tenant Communications is Powerful

Your early alerts and reminders are essential to collecting rent. Your rights are a priority. And your assertive insistence on on-time payment encourages them to put paying rent on the front burner, so they don’t sink into avoidance mode.  And for those who are continuously late, friendly advice might save them from late fees, credit bureau reports and eviction processes.

And with those 3 arrows in your quiver, when mentioned, you might change their point of view on back rent owed and rent responsibility.

Advising renters to keep at least one month’s rent in a separate bank account is a wise choice.  They just need some encouragement.

Rent Payment and Collection Process

Right now, you can begin a pro-payment communications strategy with these 10 steps.

  • Early Reminder Messages:
    • Send a friendly reminder text or email a few days before the rent is due. Use a polite and professional tone.
    • Mention the exact amount due and the due date in the reminder.
    • Express understanding and flexibility by acknowledging that sometimes life gets busy.
  • Personalized Communication:
    • Address the tenant by their name in all communication to make it more personal.
    • Express empathy and understanding. For example, “I understand that unexpected expenses can arise.”
  • Provide Options:
    • Offer multiple payment methods and mention them in your communication (e.g., online payment, check, money order).
    • If you’re open to it, suggest a payment plan as a viable option for them.
  • Use Positive Language:
    • Frame your messages positively. For example, instead of saying, “You must pay by X date,” say, “We encourage you to make the payment by X date.”
    • Emphasize the benefits of paying on time, such as avoiding late fees or maintaining a good rental history.
  • Follow Up with a Phone Call:
    • If your initial reminders are ignored, consider making a polite phone call.
    • Start by confirming their preferred method of communication and ask if there’s a reason for the delay.
    • Reiterate your willingness to work with them on a solution.
  • Offer to Help:
    • Ask if there’s anything you can do to assist them, such as providing documentation for their records or helping them understand the payment process.
    • If they’re facing financial difficulties, suggest resources or agencies that may offer assistance.
  • Document Everything:
    • Keep a record of all communication, including dates, times, and the content of messages or conversations. This documentation can be useful if legal action becomes necessary.
  • Send a Formal Notice:
    • If the problem persists, send a formal notice of late payment. Ensure that the notice is clear, concise, and in compliance with local rental laws.
    • Offer a reasonable timeframe for them to respond or make the payment.
  • Stay Professional and Courteous:
    • Maintain a professional and courteous tone throughout all interactions. Avoid using threatening language or becoming confrontational.
  • Escalate Gradually:
    • Gradually escalate the seriousness of your communication, starting from friendly reminders to formal notices, if necessary.
    • Always remain open to resolving the issue amicably, even as you escalate the communication.

18 Additional Tips on Encouraging Rent Payments

If you haven’t already, set up and start to use your property software’s tenant communications channel. It’s your chance to create an environment of cooperation, hope, confidence and transparency that will change the non-rent-paying tenant’s point of view.

  1. use a cordial, calm voice in messages to communicate with tenants and contractors
  2. encourage tenants to keep calm and look for solutions for their issues, including managing the money they have
  3. remind tenants of your online rent payment app so they know there is nothing to stop them from paying
  4. be open to partial payments which can be paid online via an Internet payment gateway
  5. offer a time-limited rent discount if they pay their rent by a specified date, and send a reminder about that due date
  6. set up a time to speak with them personally via phone to discuss their situation
  7. when asked for a concession/delay in rent payment, ask them in turn for bank statements, credit card statements, car payments, investment accounts, utility bills, insurance bills, etc.
  8. use your property management tenant portal for informational use only (don’t use threats or demands in this channel because they will stop using it)
  9. encourage tenants to express themselves and talk about their situation freely and check for untruthful statements made later if necessary
  10. tell them how they can stop the eviction process if it’s started, if they make a payment
  11. create a thorough list of resources for them in the tenant portal or on your website
  12. state the common problems so they know you understand their situation exactly, so they don’t waste time re-commenting on these baseline issues — you’re looking to move beyond being stuck to creating action
  13. discuss solutions that could work for them such as calling government agencies, asking family for money, moving in with a friend, or forwarding half their aid checks
  14. have names, emails, web urls, Facebook pages and phone numbers of government leaders responsible for rental property laws and encourage tenants to ask them directly for funding
  15. post articles and news stories about landlord points of view and needs
  16. post and share articles on what happens when landlords can’t pay their mortgage – let them see the future and present just a little fear into the matter of not paying rent
  17. post articles on how to raise money from relatives and friends
  18. post articles on moving to other cities away from high-cost cities (for those who will never pay their back rent due)

Keeping the Relationship Alive

There are a lot of stories out there about rent default, evictions, and refusals to meet lease agreements, yet precious few about happy endings. Keep happy endings in your mind s you build your rent collection strategy.

See more about ManageCasa’s features to help you collect rent.


See more on tenant retention, getting tenants to sign lease, tenant surveys, and keeping good tenants.


See also: Property Management | Property Management Software | How to Ask for Rent | Collect Over Due RentRental Application Tips | How to File for Eviction |  Property Management CompaniesProperty Management Websites  | Association Websites | Apartmentalize 2024

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