Long Term Tenant Can’t Pay the Rent – Tales From The Front.

So you’ve got a Long Term Tenant that wants to “work a deal” with you… ?

Should you be flexible in these “hard times”… the recesssion

I know times are difficult now, but you as the landlord are not part of the Welfare System, so please don’t feel guilty that you are owed the rent.    

If you find yourself in this situation, let me give you some advice before it’s too late.

In California as you may know the rental contracts specify rent is due on the 1st and late on the 2nd. However you can’t not charge a “late fee” until after the 5th of the month.

Here’s the correct way to handle this situation.

Let’s say a tenant comes to you with a situation that they are unable to pay the rent and I mean they can’t pay any rent. If they have been decent tenants and have not been consistently late and have maintained the property, here’s what you should do so you don’t get burned and left without rent for a long period of time.

Your first step is to give the tenant a “3 day notice to pay or quit”.   If at the end of that time you don’t have a response your next step is to turn this over to an “Eviction Attorney” and let them handle it from that point.

However, let’s say you have given the 3 day notice to pay or quit and the tenant comes to you with a “partial” payment.  It’s ok to take that in, but then, you turn right around and issue another 3 day notice to pay or quit for the remainder until it’s paid.   The reason I recommend this strategy is that you must keep up the pressure on the tenant to get their rent in and continually issuing 3 day notices after a partial payment does that.

Why You Should Not Be Too Flexible.image2021

Let’s say the 1st of the month comes around and a tenant tells you he can’t afford this month’s rent for what ever reason.  You’ve had a decent relationship with this person so you decide to give them the benefit of the doubt, take their word and do not issue a 3 day notice.

Two or three weeks later they still haven’t paid the rent,  they tell you they are “working on it”  but,  still haven’t given you any money towards the rent.

All of a sudden you realize it’s in the 3rd week of the month and the next month’s rent is due within a week or so.  Keep in mind you haven’t  started the “eviction” process.

In Sacramento County you have to figure it will be about a 9 to maybe 10 week  process from the day you give the 3 day notice to the tenant  to the day you get into court.  When a judge finally orders the tenant out of the property and the Sheriff does the “lock out” a lot of time has passed with no rent.

Failure to act quickly and timely because you are “working” with a tenant that is in arrears will,  “in most cases”,  cost you time and therefore income if you had a “paying tenant”.

So… in the case above you’ve waited 3 weeks or so.. then you finally give them a 3 day notice to pay or quit.  Another month will pass before you finally get them into court and regain possession if they don’t answer the complaint.   If the tenant does answer the complaint, it will take longer.

And since they are so far behind, the chances of them catching  up are very slim. 

Bottom Line is you should run your property by the book.   You can be compassionate, but don’t let someone else’s problem become yours.   I’ve had experience trusting tenants in arrears only to be burned later when they decide it’s cheaper for them to move out than to pay the back rent and the current rent in a “deal”.

I hope this helps…


Make it a Great Day..!

Ed Favinger, Broker CRS, GRI         916.203.1260 Mobile          favinger@rwnetwork.com

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