landlord's rights? - Posted by infinitig35

Posted by infinitig35 on May 04, 2007 at 05:59:07:

Thanks guys for answering my question!

landlord’s rights? - Posted by infinitig35

Posted by infinitig35 on May 03, 2007 at 13:35:19:

Hello all. This is only my second month owning this property which is currently occupied by a long term tenant. She just told me yesterday that she just lost her job last week and she will not have the rent in full. Rent is due on the first of each month, after the 5th there’s a late charge. She said that she’ll have the rest in 2 more weeks. What rights do I have? Should I start charging interest on the remaining balance which is about $50? I’m in southern PA. This is my first time being a landlord so i’m not familiar with the rules.

Don’t be a sucker! - Posted by Ed in Idaho

Posted by Ed in Idaho on May 04, 2007 at 12:42:24:

Now that you got the sugar coated versions you need to hear the cold hard truth. I consider myself to be a nice guy and very easy to get along with, but when it comes to renters, YOU CANNOT BE A BIG ENOUGH AHOLE! I’ll say it again. YOU CANNOT BE A BIG ENOUGH AHOLE. Like Russ and Rich said if you start on a pattern with renters it will only get worse.

First if this is a new property for you, You should have YOUR OWN ironclad lease from the tenant. If you don’t have a lease with your name on it and are just using the old lease, you may not have squat. This is business and needs to be run like it is if you intend to last. When you sign the lease with the tenant you need to read every line and have them initial every line. Part of being the a**hole. EX: Mr Tenant, there is no smoking in this unit. If it has been discovered that someone smoked in this unit you lose your deposit, any pro-rated rent, and will receive a three day eviction notice, do you understand? (Mr Tenant: Yes.) You:"DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!! (Mr Tenant: YES!) Good, initial here. Reading every line this way will greatly reduce your chances of the misunderstandings. Another option for you on this is if it cash flows enough to pay for a property management company and you want do that, you get even less headaches.

You said rent is due on the first and a late charge applies on the fifth. WRONG!!! Mr Tenant, the rent is due on the first of the month, if it is late, the rent and a $50 late fee is due on the second. If this is not paid by the 4th then you will receive a three day eviction notice and you forfeit your deposit. do you understand? Mr tenant : Yes. You: "DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!! Mr Tenant : YES! Good, initial here.

The point is you are not the bank and you are not their parents. Those are places tenants go to get money so they don’t lose their place to live. It may sound harsh but you give up your niceness when you put your landlord hat on. You are strict, fair, civil, understanding, but it is all business. Just like the bank treats you when you tell them you can’t make your motgage payment on time. Bank: We understand, just make your payment tomorrow with the late fee added on. Get my drift?

I don’t expect you to be the person I’m portraying here to the letter, I can’t do it myself all of the time. But if you start thinking along these lines you will save time, headaches and alot of money. Great renters will never get in a bad situation like this, but I haven’t found to many Great renters. There are alot of good renters out there that need breaks once in a while, but not from you if you want to keep your sanity.

Your conversation should have gone something like this:
Tenant: I just lost my job so I can’t pay all of my rent this month on time.
You: When will you be moving?
Tenant: I don’t want to move, I’ll have the rest of the money in two weeks.
You: You do remember there is a $50 late fee plus the rent due on the second and if it is not paid by the 4th you will receive a 3 day eviction notice! My mortgage company doesn’t accept any excuses and I can’t afford to either. I’m sorry but the rent needs to be paid on time as stated on the lease. I’ve got other renters on a list wanting to rent from me and I can’t afford to be a bank right now.
Tenant: 1)Here’s the rent, I guess I’ll have to cut back on my beer purchases this week.
2)I’ll have the rest of the rent and the late fee by the 4th.
3) I’ll be moving in a week.

Any of these scenarios saves you more problems than you want to deal with or should have to.
Anyway if you give an inch most will take a mile, and in their minds that mile will always be there unless you put a halt to it right away and make them pay for it a little so it will not happen again. I hope getting you to think along these lines saves you alot of stress and problems and keeps you in the business a long time if that’s what you want! Don’t be a sucker!!!

Re: landlord’s rights? - Posted by Rich-CA

Posted by Rich-CA on May 03, 2007 at 17:39:50:

First read you lease. This should have come with the property from the seller. If there is no lease, then find the month to month tenancy laws for PA as these are what you have to follow.

If you want to work with your tenant (and the ease or difficulty of getting another one will pay a role here), make sure you get the agreement to pay in 2 weeks in writing, so if you do have to evict you can show you were trying to work with her. Most states allow a late fee (usually in the lease and if mentioned in law its usually an upper limit) but I have not heard of any jurisdiction allowing interest. Its not a late payment on a loan - rent is paid in advance.

Re: landlord’s rights? - Posted by Russ Sims

Posted by Russ Sims on May 03, 2007 at 13:57:32:

Here’s a link for the landlord/tenant law in PA.

I can’t overstress the importance of geeting up to speed with your landlord tenant law…the sooner the better. See if there are any local landlord associations you can join. They can often offer free advice and recommend a course of action. If your tenant only owes $50, it’s probably best to just work with her this time around. Take this opportunity to tell her that you are very strict at collecting timely payment and that you’ll work with her this month, but in the future you will begin eviction proceedings if the entire rent is not paid when due.

As a general rule, it’s best not to accept partial rent payments. Doing so sets a precedent that you may have to honor should eviction proceedings become necessary. Plus, if you’re soft on your tenant once, they’ll expect you to be every time they get into a jam. Establish the rules, and stick to them every time.

Re: Don’t be a sucker! - Posted by infinitig35

Posted by infinitig35 on May 07, 2007 at 06:15:00:

Thanks Ed for the reply. Sounds very true. I’m still learning how to be a landlord, this is my first rental property. Thanks again. I learn alot from reading your reply.

1-800-A$$HOLE - Posted by Jimmy

Posted by Jimmy on May 05, 2007 at 10:04:17:

Ed is absolutely, positively, undoubtedly, indisputably, irrefutably CORRECT. When I hire managers, I look for mean-spirited, ill-tempered curmudgoens. I want managers who ENJOY confrontation. I want my managers to ENJOY enforcing lease provisions, filing evictions. etc.

and when tenants think a manager is being unfair, they often call me directly. and they learn that the manager is a LOT nicer than I am. the conversation ends in about 20 seconds " Pay on time, or get the #%$% out of my house !!!"

we hand out 3-day notices on the 10th, and file eviction papers on the 14th or so. I never let a tenant get behind very far.

I practiced law for 20 years, which sharpened my edges and shortened my temper. I actually tried to get 1-800-A$$HOLE as my phone number, but another lawyer already had it.

Cant change the lease - Posted by Marc Donovan

Posted by Marc Donovan on May 05, 2007 at 07:25:36:

You buy subject to the existing lease. You may be able to talk the tenant into signing a new one, but they don’t have to do it.