Rent’s Late Again, Can You Evict?
April 18, 2013
Question: I have a problem tenant. He doesn’t keep up the place, he comes and goes at all times of the night and is generally a poor neighbor to my other tenants. What’s more, he’s chronically late with his rent. Most often, he won’t pay the rent unless I take the time to place a delinquency notice on his door and threaten to begin eviction proceedings. If the rent is late, can’t I just refuse to accept payment and evict this loser?
Answer: So the rent is late and you send the standard 3-day notice to pay up or move out. But you don’t want the tenant living in your property anymore, so you figure this month is your big chance to get rid of him. Trouble is, the tenant shows up on the third day, cash in hand including a late fee, ready to pay. Maybe he’s five minutes past the deadline. You say, “No way! You know when the rent is due. Keep your money. I’m evicting you for non-payment.” The next day you go to the courthouse and file the eviction. The tenant doesn’t move out, but shows up in court on the appointed day. He explains how you refused payment after you sent him a 3-day notice. He then hands your notice to the judge. The judge asks “is this correct?” You agree. The judge says, “I rule for the defendant.” To make matters worse, in your jurisdiction the law says that since you refused payment, the tenant no longer owes you for the amount you refused. You not only still have a bad tenant, but you’re out a month’s rent as well.
Being a landlord is a big responsibility. You must not only follow the letter of the law, but the spirit as well. A 3-day notice is not the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to free yourself from an undesirable tenant. It is what it is…..a notice to pay the rent or move.