How to Deal with Late or Unpaid Rent

unpaid rent

Is a tenant’s unpaid rent leaving a hole in your finances? Here’s what you can do to avoid making costly mistakes.

If your tenants are late, or not paying rent at all, it can be a sticky situation. It takes a lot of time and money to get them out.

You, too, can have the satisfaction of actually doing something about the rent that’s gone unpaid.

The following information will help you decide what actions to take.

Consistent Rules For Unpaid Rent

It’s important to be consistent when dealing with a tenant who isn’t paying rent.

Although state laws vary, there are two things a landlord can do when a tenant doesn’t pay rent: chase them for payment or eviction.

It’s your decision what to do with your tenants. Make sure you’re consistent with your rules.

Deliver the rent bill on the day it is due. Your tenants should know the rent is due by the due date.

If a tenant is late with a payment, be sure to be consistent with adding late fees. If you give a tenant an inch, you never know when they’ll take a mile. If you’re not consistent with late fees, the likelihood of your tenants not paying you increases.

You need to hold your tenants accountable for their rent payment consistently. The next step is an important part of that process.

Meet With Your Tenant(s) In Person

It’s important to meet with your tenants in person to discuss the unpaid rent. You have to hold your tenants accountable in some way. Face-to-face interactions are more impactful than writing letters.

When meeting with your tenants to discuss unpaid rent, always be respectful and polite. You don’t want the situation to be more negative than it has to be.

This meeting with your tenant will hold them accountable for their unpaid rent. Your tenant will tell you the situation of their lack of payment. They might’ve lost their job or had a medical emergency.

In this in-person meeting, you’ll also discuss late fees. This is a good opportunity to serve a Notice of Non-Payment of Rent. Make sure you’re clear with your tenants about everything.

If you’re clear, eviction will not be a surprise.


The eviction process doesn’t start until you file a notice. It can also experience delays. You need time to carry out a proper eviction.

Send out eviction notices immediately. Do not accept any excuses from your tenant(s). The eviction process takes time, so the sooner you start it, the better off you’ll be as a landlord.

Waiting to start the eviction process is a mistake. If you accept partial payments, it might restart your eviction and you’ll have to go through the whole ordeal again.

The quicker you get non-paying tenants out, the quicker you can get paying tenants or be able to sell your home.

Don’t bother with a “constructive eviction.” That’s when you turn the utilities off on a non-paying tenant to get them to leave. This is illegal in every state and doing this will have negative repercussions.

Remember: You Are The Landlord

It is your responsibility to hold your tenants accountable for unpaid rent. After all, it’s your money!

Only you know what actions are best to take in your situation.

Contact an expert to learn more about rent, eviction, and all that jazz. You won’t regret it.