When your tenant is late on rent, most landlords will use a late rent letter to give the tenant notice that they still owe rent. Some states actually require this letter. It can be in a simple format or it can be a more formal pay or quit notice. I have used many different formats and techniques over the years and actually there is not really one size fits all when it comes to tenants. Some are more responsive when I call them versus if I send them a letter. Some only respond to an eviction notice!
But, for those of you that prefer to use a softer approach, here is an example late rent notice:
1234 Main Street North
Tallahassee, Florida 12243
This letter is to inform you that we have not received your rent payment for December 2010, which was due by December 5 at 5:00 PM. This was for the rental period December 1 to December 31. If you have already mailed the rent, you may disregard this letter.
At this time, per your lease agreement, you have been assessed a $50 late fee charge. The total amount due is $1250.
Please send the total amount immediately to the following address:
Most Excellent Landlord
5555 High Living Street
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55112
Alternatively, if you need to discuss payment arrangements or have any questions regarding this matter, you can contact me at 612-555-1212. Failure to pay the total amount noted on the above late rent notice may result in further actions being taken, including, but not limited to eviction.
Most Excellent Landlord
This late rent letter can be modified as you see fit. One option is to remove or modify the last sentence to make the letter more or less harsh. Personally, I would always opt for a more strict and forward approach than a light one. If you want examples, read one of your credit card or utility bills for sample late payment language.
Make sure to keep a copy of this rent late notice for you records in case you need to evict. If possible, send the letter certified mail with a return receipt. This will require the tenant to sign for it, proving they received it. Alternatively, I have seen landlords use Fedex to send this late rent notice, knowing that everyone will accept a package from Fedex. You can also have your letter served by a process server or the sheriff, but that can be costly. Depending upon the situation, it may be worth the extra money to have the letter done correctly so when (notice I didn’t say if!) you get to court, you can prove beyond a doubt that the tenant was notified.
If the tenant does not respond within a couple days or refuses to pay, your next option is to start the eviction process. Do not make the mistake of most landlords and wait weeks or even months before starting the eviction. At court, bring this letter with you to show the judge that you gave the tenant ample opportunity and notice to pay the late rent.
You have done everything you need to do to get this tenant to pay rent by sending this letter to tenant about late rent. It was their choice to make a late rent payment. Don’t lose your nerve or get bullied into waiting any longer to evict.