Do you send out 7 day letters consistently?
I am writing this on the 6th day of the month, but it doesn’t matter what the date is. My 7 day letters have been sent out to all delinquent tenants.
My question to you is, have you sent out your 7 day letters to tenants who have not paid their rent this month?
Do your tenants even expect to get a 7 day letter when they don’t pay their rent on time?
If you have sent out your 7 day letters, congratulations!
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I talk a lot about being consistent and training your tenants instead of them training you! Your lease should clearly spell out when the rent is due, what the grace period is (if any) and when late fees will start accruing.
However, if you haven’t sent out your 7 day letters, why not?
Failure to enforce the terms of the lease will give your tenants the impression that you don’t care when they pay the rent. After all, if there are no penalties when they pay the rent late, why should they bother to pay on time?
Your Job Is To Collect Rent
Your job as the landlord or property manager is to collect rent every single month from every tenant. Part of that job requires you to send out 7 day letters consistently. If your lease states that rent is due on the first, rent is late on the second and late fees will be charged on the second, your tenants need to know that you mean business. You actually expect them to pay!
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Many tenants are shocked and upset when they get the 7 day letter. I have heard so many excuses over the years. Some are even offended that you would do this to them!
Do Your Tenants Understand 7 Day Letters?
Tenants need to understand that they have to pay the rent on time, every single month. If they don’t pay on time, a 7 day letter will be mailed.
Most tenants do not understand that the 7 day letter is the first step in the eviction process. It is serious business to get a 7 day letter. The letter should specifically state that their rent is late and that they are in violation of the lease.
It should also explain what will happen if they don’t pay their rent before the deadline. In Kentucky, I can call and get a court date on the 8th day after the letter was mailed. Once this happens, the tenant will be responsible for court costs as well.
Have Policies And Enforce Them
There should be a company policy detailing when you will send out 7 day letters. For example, you can send them out as soon as the second day rent is late or you can pick another day.
It really doesn’t matter what day you pick, but you should be consistent every month. My goal is to get them out on the third of the month or the next business day. Mail doesn’t run on Sunday so if the third falls on a Sunday, I send them on Monday.
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Consistency is key here. Failure of your tenants to pay rent should automatically trigger you to send out 7 day letters each and every month. Even if one of your tenants says he is going to pay the rent next week, send it out anyway! If your tenant doesn’t pay when he says he will, you will be a week behind in the eviction process if you didn’t sent the letter.
I am going to say this again! Your tenants need to understand that failure to pay the rent on time will start the eviction process.
I hear a lot of excuses when I talk to other landlords or property managers about sending out 7 day letters.
- They cost me money.
- It takes too much time to generate the letter.
- I have to go into the post office and stand in line.
- It’s a waste because the tenant always pays late every month.
- The late fee never gets paid anyway.
- My tenants get mad and yell at me.
- They want me to remove the late fees.
Yes, sending out 7 day letters does cost you money and tenants do get mad.
I Love Collecting Rent
But, I really like collecting the rent money every month. The amount the tenants owe is a lot more than the cost of the 7 day letter. I agree that it is irritating to have to figure out the late fees and send the letter. Tenants that pay late every single month are also a huge problem, especially if they protest about having to pay a late fee.
Your Monkey, Your Circus
What I have found is that the landlords and property managers that have the most problems do not consistently send out 7 day letters. They do not enforce the late fees every single time and tend to allow the tenants to harass them into removing the late fees.
Most tenants have rented from other landlords before you get them. They have learned very quickly what works and what doesn’t. Many of them know that if they throw a fit about something, you will probably just give in and let it go. They know how to get what they want and are not afraid to use their considerable arsenal of tools they have learned from other landlords to get their way.
Do You Have Problem Tenants?
If you are dealing with “problem tenants”, your tenants have trained you.
Congratulations. Your tenants are now in charge of your business. They are also probably driving you crazy and costing you, or the owner’s you work for, a lot of money. How does that feel?
Do you like being:
- Paid sporadically?
- Yelled at?
- Harassed for doing your job?
- Shorted on late fees?
- Out of control of your business?
- Criticized by the owner’s you collect rent for?
It is time to take your life back and get your business back on track. You must have policies and enforce them. Enforcing your policies may not make you popular but your tenants will learn that you mean business.
Send Your 7 Day Letters
Send out reminders to all of your tenants about when the rent is due and late fees. Explain the 7 day letter and your eviction policy at least once a year. If you collect email addresses, send out monthly reminders about different policies that you enforce.
As for tenants that won’t pay the late fees, you can consider not accepting rent without all of the late fees paid. Yes, you will have unhappy tenants at first, especially if you have been guilty of not sending out 7 day letters consistently and charging late fees. Get over it. This isn’t a popularity contest.
Who Is The Boss?
Remind yourself that you are you in the business of making money, not losing money!
At the end of the day, it is your job to collect your rent, even if the tenant doesn’t like you and your policies. You make the policies, not your tenants. The more consistent you are, the easier your life will be.
The goal is to train your tenants to just pay the rent on time every month. But, if they don’t, they will know what the consequences are when you send out 7 day letters consistently every single month.