When a tenant needs to be given notice (late payments, evictions, change of manager) there are three different ways to formally provide this notice. While there are arguments for each, when it really gets down to effectiveness there is really one best process. The problem is..the best process takes more time and presents some risk. For that reason, some landlords spend a lot of time trying to communicate using other methods which are nowhere near as effective. Lets discuss the three options for giving a tenant notice.
Certified Mail The Notice
This is probably the most common approach for giving notice. It provides for a delivery method and a request for a receipt. Many landlords believe that using certified mail is adequate for giving their tenant a notice. Rarely is certified mail the best way to make notice, yet most agreements require it.
WILMOTH occasionally will use certified mail as a tracking step. To see who accepts delivery. In most cases this is just a waste of time and postage. Why? Have you ever received a certified letter? Unless you are home (or chose to answer the door for the mail person) a little slip of paper is left in your mailbox notifying you that a parcel or letter is waiting to be picked up at the post office. It also shows the sender. Do you think the tenant, facing a lease violation or behind on rent, will take the time to go pick up this letter? How many tenants wishing to avoid their landlord or manager are going to hop over to the post office to officially go on record that they have signed for receipt of this letter? Understand, certified mail is an offensive strategy for you as the owner or landlord. If you are fortunate enough to get back one of those signed receipts, it was worth it and will provide some additional evidence if you end up in front of a Judge.
Regular Mail or Email The Notice
Honestly, who still uses regular mail? I find it still relevant when attempting to provide a personal touch (thank you notes) but the delivery of a notice does not fall in this category. There is also no way to know if your mail has been delivered or received. Email does offer a method for receipt called a “Read Receipt”. It is a quick way to let a tenant know they are out of compliance and possibly confirm receipt. It should only be used as a supplement though. I would not want to go to a Judge asking for an eviction and all that we did was send emails to the tenant. https://wilmothgroup.com/serving-notice-late-tenant/
Post The Notice At The Property
The notice that is most effective is a documented posting at the property. Kind of old fashion but just go to the door and personally deliver the notice! Hopefully the tenant answers the door and you can hand them the notice. I’ve seen people get pictures of this exchange-either by taking somebody with them in the background or just telling the tenant they need proof and before the tenant can think about it, snapping a pic of their hands holding the notice.
Chances are nobody will come to the door. That is just the way these situations work. So, no fear. Just take some tape and an envelope and when nobody answers, tape the notice with the tenant’s name and the words CONFIDENTIAL to the door. Pull a camera out and take a picture of the notice sealed, and posted, on the door. Make sure your camera will time and date stamp the image to correlate with the date on the notice. This is the only way you should spend time with notices. Courts like proof a tenant received notice. Unless you can get them to accept and sign for a certified letter, this shows you went to the trouble to try.
What Happens Next?
We all know that the tenant who wants to cooperate will respond. The ones who are a problem won’t. Proving that you bent over backwards to provide them notice of the issue will be important if they decide to fight legally. The most common tenant defense? “Your honor, I did not know.” Make it impossible for your tenant to successfully make that claim. Take the time to personally deliver the notice.