What To Do When Tenants Stop Paying Rent
Owning a rental property in Greenville, South Carolina can be an excellent investment to have in your portfolio. Not only is real estate an appreciating asset, but it can also supply you with a steady source of income.
However, if for some reason your tenants decide to stop paying the rent you could start losing money very fast. Fortunately, however, South Carolina laws protect your rights as a landlord, so it's up to you to decide if you accept an overdue payment or force your tenants to move.
Here are a few things you can do if your tenants stop paying rent:
1. Talk with them and sort things out
If your tenants have a good rental history, you might want to let this one go by. Good tenants are hard to find, so why ruin a good relationship for a few late payments? Your tenants might have had a medical emergency, financial issues, or family matters to solve. Have a chat with them, there’s a good chance that this was a temporary incident. If you feel that their explanation makes sense, you could make it easier for them and give them the benefit of the doubt.
When talking to your tenants, it's important that you make it clear that missing rent is a serious violation. It's also very important that you take note of when and how you discussed this issue since this is evidence you could need if the issue requires an eviction in the future. Write down the date of contact, what you discussed, and whether you reached an agreement or not.
2. Read the terms of the Lease
Lease agreements contain the terms under which your tenants may occupy your property. One of the most important terms found in your lease is the grace period. This is the time frame during which the tenant can pay his overdue rent. The grace period usually lasts three days but varies depending on state laws and other factors.
In these situations, it's always a good idea to keep in touch with the tenant and remind him of the lease terms. However, if you need to contact them make sure that you do so in writing. That way there will be solid evidence that you can use to protect yourself in case that an eviction is necessary. Have proof of everything.
3. Send them a Notice to Vacate
If the grace period is over and the rent is still due, the next step that you need to take is to send a Notice to Vacate to your tenant. This is a legal document that notifies the tenant that he is breaking the terms of the lease and must therefore move out of your property in a specified period of time. Sending a Notice to Vacate is an important step that you should take to protect yourself in case that an eviction process is necessary. Make sure to deliver it even if you don't intend to follow through the process.
If you intend to let the tenants pay you back you should send them a note to that effect before you file the Notice to Vacate. Once the tenants have paid back the rent in full, the eviction process is stopped. Now if you decide to follow through the process, you will need to hire an attorney licensed in South Carolina to help you with your case. Eviction procedures vary from state to state.
4. Follow with the Eviction Process
If your tenant is unable or unwilling to pay the rent, following the eviction procedure is the last step you can take. To do this, make sure that you serve the Notice to Vacate to your tenant personally. This can be done by delivering it directly into his hands. Alternatively, you can also mail it by return receipt to make sure that you have evidence that your tenant received the notice.
If the tenant refuses to move out you can file a forcible entry and detainer action to get him or her out of the property. Once the process is completed and your tenant has vacated your rental, you can use his or her deposit to cover the unpaid rent. However, if the deposit doesn't cover the rent owed you can still get your money back by suing the tenant for the money that's still owed to you.
Hopefully, the is not a situation you’ll need to follow through with but if it’s the case, follow the steps outlined.
Hope this helps!