Serving notice to a late tenant often is the wake up call that the landlord means business.  When a tenant's rent payment has not been received, and the grace period is over, it is time to start the process of collection.  

Serving notice to a late tenant often is the wake up call that the landlord means business.  When a tenant’s rent payment has not been received, and the grace period is over, it is time to start the process of collection.   The goal is to collect funds.  But just opening communications can be considered a success.  Through communications, a plan for payment can proceed.

 How To Serve Notice When The Rent Is Late

We use a “Pay or Quit” notice.  This notice is a form of an eviction notice that is given when the rent is late.  The Pay or Quit notice should include:

  • Names of the tenants,
  • Property address,
  • Amount of rent owed as of a certain date,
  • A signature from the owner or their representative
  • Instructions for making payment immediately

The notice needs to also inform the tenant that the landlord is about to start eviction proceedings.  It should give the tenant a certain number of days to rectify the situation or face legal action (ie 3 day Pay Rent or Quit notice).
The notice should be posted at the rented premises.  It is important to not delay with this notice.  The chances that the amount of rent and late fees accrue to a point the tenant will never be able to catch up get higher each day.  Generally serving notice should occur prior to 30 days of the rent being late.
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Why Does The Notice Need To Be Hand Delivered?

Serving notice is best accomplished by knocking on the door and continue knocking until somebody comes to the door.  You may hear people quietly moving around inside.  Yet nobody may answer.  Or, a mother may come to the door and explain that her husband’s employer was late with his pay and has promised it in the next 3 days.
Sometimes the door knock will also reveal information not otherwise available.  Such as observing boxes stacked throughout the dining and living area.  This information is both good news and bad news.  The bad news is your tenant is in the process of skipping out.  They likely did not plan to inform the landlord.  The good news is that the landlord can now pursue a dialogue that avoids the cost of eviction and ensures a smooth process of taking back the property.  The owner still has the opportunity to take  legal action for a rent deficiency judgement against the tenant.  This discovery may also actually minimize the vacancy period.
If you can get somebody to answer the door, you will always learn more than just posting a notice.  Speaking to a tenant, face to face, provides information.  Information that increases the possibility of collecting some, if not all, the late rent.

What You Hope The Tenant Will Do Upon Receiving The Notice

Usually, nobody comes to the door and the notice needs to be posted conspicuously.  Document the posting as the eviction court wants to know that the tenant was given appropriate notice before an eviction was filed.
Your tenant will hopefully, immediately upon finding the notice, contact you and promise to make their rent current.  This is the time to move past communication to documentation.  Agree to whatever plan seems to work for both the tenant and the landlord. Then document this agreement with a Promise to Pay document.  Make sure it is clear to the tenant that, if they default on this agreement, eviction will commence immediately.
Serving notice to your late tenant is a very important step to take.  It can provide a path to collection or to a successful eviction.  Just be sure once you start the process, you do not ignore the effort for another 30 days.  If you do, you will get to serve notice all over again.
That is not a productive way to send your tenant a message about the seriousness of this or any notice.

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