When you find out that your rent has not been paid, your first instinct may be to telephone the tenant to find out what has happened. This may be a good idea, and if the non payment is a genuine oversight, will probably mean that the problem is dealt with immediately. It may also be the best thing to do if you are on good terms with the tenant.
However you do need to be careful about telephoning or visiting the tenant too often. Tenants sometimes get upset by this and may start accusing you of harassment. Often this is simply a defensive mechanism, however it is best not to give the tenant an opportunity to make these accusations. If you think that the tenant is likely to do this, then it may be best just to deal with things by correspondence.
Even if your tenant is happy for you to telephone or visit, it is important that you keep a record of what has happened, plus you should also send letters confirming what has been agreed. In this way, if it is ever in issue, you will be able to prove what has happened. You can use my Landlord-Law diary sheets (see link on your right) to keep a record of meetings.
Things to tell your tenant
If you are able to talk to your tenant, try to emphasis these points:
- You keep a careful check on all payments made to your bank so you will always know and check up on them if they fail to pay
- If they have fallen on hard times (eg lost their job) then express your sympathy and say that so far as you can help you will
- However it is very important that they continue to pay rent – it will be virtually impossible for them to get another job if they are rendered homeless (for example) and having a CCJ registered against their name will create difficulties if they ever want to take out a loan or mortgage in the future
- That although you are sympathetic, if they run up more than one months worth of arrears, you will have no alternative to enforce your legal remedies as you are not in a position to support non paying tenants
If they are made aware of these facts, most reasonable tenants should hopefully then make an effort to pay your rent over their other debts.