5 steps to handle a tenant that violates a lease

Survival Guide for Renter Issues

5 steps on how to handle a tenant that violates the lease agreement

What happens when your tenant is five days late paying the rent? There is no check in the mail, your tenant hasn’t dropped off the money, and you are starting to get upset. What about a scenario where the tenant has broken the terms of the lease agreement, and you need to get them out of your rental property ASAP? No landlord wants to deal with situations like these, situations where you have to confront your tenant, demand money, or have them vacate the premises.

At Oak City Properties, we understand that no one can predict the future, and there is no “landlord crystal ball” that can warn you about a tenant before they enter your property. We also understand that when you find yourself dealing with tenant issues, it is crucial to follow proper protocol so the landlord-tenant relationship is handled correctly and more importantly…legally.

Take a look at our list of five steps you need to follow to handle a delinquent tenant that doesn’t pay on time or has broken the lease agreement.

Step 1: Talk with your tenant

Respectfully talk with your tenant about the issue. Err on the side of caution and try to better understand the situation. Let your tenant know that you care about their current situation, but you also can’t afford not to receive rent or have them break the lease agreement. Be firm and fair while reviewing the lease and your expectations of them as renters.

  • If the rent payment is late, this is a great time to give them a formal “late rent” notice while discussing the issue.
  • If they are breaking the lease agreement, this would be a good time to give them a formal document highlighting what needs to be addressed.

Oak City Properties Helpful Hint: If your tenant is experiencing a hardship, one way to handle the situation is to let the individual out of the lease early.

Step 2: Know the law and timeframes allotted by your state

Every state has its own laws and regulations put in place to deal with landlord and tenant rights. It is essential to understand two things:

  1. Time Restrictions: Each state has its own guidelines put in place when it comes to the amount of time that a landlord must give a renter to address any issue when dealing with late rent or breaking lease terms. It is important to give your tenant the correct amount of days to address the issues so that you are following proper protocol.
  2. State Law for Eviction: Each state also has its own set of laws that must be followed to properly document and evict a tenant. The “Landlord and Tenant Act” goes into a detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. Make sure to review and understand the laws that protect both the landlord and the tenant before you take the situation to the next step.

Step 3: Send a formal “Pay or Quit” Notice

Most states require that you send a notice to “Pay or Quit” when a tenant doesn’t pay the rent or violates the terms of the lease. It is a reminder that the individual is not following the procedures outlined in the lease and has “x” amount of days to do so. Most states require that you give your tenant 7-10 days to address the issue. If the notice is ignored and the tenant does not pay, the next steps are more severe.

Step 4: File an Eviction Action and give a notice

Now things are starting to get serious! If your tenant still refuses to pay the rent or change their behavior to follow the agreed-upon lease, you have the right to file the proper paperwork at the courthouse for a formal eviction hearing. Make sure to bring all of the documentation needed to prove that you have tried to work with the tenant and followed proper protocol.

Oak City Properties Helpful Hint:

  • Bring the notice to “pay or quit” letter you gave the tenant
  • Have a way to pay the court fees
  • Have your calendar to schedule the hearing
  • Know who is responsible to “serve” the tenant the paperwork
  • Get ready for your court date

Once the paperwork has been submitted, give your tenant the formal eviction notice. The notice needs to be placed on the front door, and some states make you send a copy via certified mail. Make sure to use a state-specific eviction form template so that you follow all rules and regulations outlined by your state.

Take a look at the following blog on more information about evicting a tenant the right way:

Evicting your tenant the right way: How to handle the very stressful situation

Step 5:  Consider hiring a property manager in the future

If you aren’t the kind of person who wants to deal with a tenant and the many issues that arise when renting a home, contact a property management service. At Oak City Properties, we work with you each step of the way when renting your property. Our full management property service will market the property, locate prospective tenants, and show the home. Once a tenant is placed in your rental property, we will: collect rent payments, assess and collect late payment fees, provide 24/7 maintenance, help with accounting/tax services, and deal with any court appearances in the event of an eviction.

Want to read more about property management services? Give us a call at (919)-232-9222 or here are a few blogs that may interest you: