Collecting rent is usually the largest hassle that you will face as a Sammamish property manager or landlord, but learning how to do it properly can take away a lot of the stress. While you can hire a professional property management company to do it for you, and you should if you don’t have the time to legally and professionally work with each tenant, the following tips can help you with ensuring that your rent collection policy and methods are where they should be.
Have a Rent Collection Policy – You should have a rent collection policy, preferably written by a real estate attorney, and make sure that you are familiar with it. Knowing your own policies on what to do when the rent is late, how long you will wait before serving an eviction notice, if you accept partial payments, and what day the rent is absolutely due by make it easier to enforce the policy. You should also take the time to go over the policy, in detail, with the tenant before they sign the lease.
Enforce Your Rent Collection Policy – If your rent collection policy says one thing then you should follow it to the letter, except in very rare cases of extreme emergency on the part of the tenant. For example, if your policy says no partial payments then you should not accept partial payments. Disregarding your policy can be good in some cases, but for the most part, you are better off following it to the letter.
Make it Easy to Pay the Rent – Make sure that it is as easy as possible for tenants to pay the rent. If you accept electronic payments, consider mailing out letters with reminders once monthly. If you accept checks, consider mailing out reminders with an addressed envelope inside. Including a slip with all of your payment information in the leasing agreement, or hand delivering it to their mailbox is a good idea if you want to ensure that tenants know how to pay you. Setting up an automatic online banking payment or ACH makes it even easier.
Provide Paper Receipts for Received Rent – Even if your tenants pay you with a bank transfer you should always mail them a paper receipt of their rent payment. Print two copies and keep one for your records and one for theirs, so that it is easy to see which months have been paid and which haven’t.
Don’t Accept Cash – Cash may be convenient, but it’s also difficult to track. Accepting checks and bank or internet payments ensures that you have a way to track every payment, even if you forget to write it down in your accounts.
Ask Questions If Tenants Are Late – If tenants are late on their rent, ask them why, ask them when they will pay, what is the amount they will be paying, and if they have lost their job, how they will be paying. Asking questions allows you to prepare based on the tenants response, so that you can either start preparing an eviction notice, or decide to give them more time to pay.
Collecting rent is a hassle, but if you don’t take the time to handle it professionally, you might not be able to protect yourself if tenants don’t pay. It is important to keep good records, document every exchange, and always send receipts, so that you can prove when tenants miss a payment. If you need help, Sammamish property management is one way to go to ensure that you don’t have to worry about collecting rent, writing policies, or enforcing those policies.