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How to Handle a Tenant Who Doesn't Pay Rent

How to Handle a Tenant Who Doesn't Pay Rent

Being a landlord comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities, and one of the most stressful situations you might face is when a tenant fails to pay rent. Not only does this put a strain on your finances, but navigating the legalities of eviction can also be daunting if you're not familiar with the process. In this blog post, we'll outline the steps you can take if you find yourself dealing with a resident who does not pay rent.

1. Check Your Lease Agreement

Before taking any drastic measures, refer to your lease agreement. This contract should detail the payment terms, including the due date and any applicable late fees. Knowing these details will guide your next steps.

2. Communicate with the Resident

If rent is late, don't hesitate to send an email and communicate with the resident. If you choose to accept a partial payment, make sure they sign a partial payment waiver. Transparency and open communication can sometimes resolve the issue without further action.

3. Hand Deliver or Certify Mail a 5-Day Notice

A formal 5-day notice can be delivered either by hand or certified mail. This serves as an official warning to the tenant and initiates the legal process should you need to evict.

4. File for Eviction if Necessary

If the resident still fails to pay after receiving the late rent notice, filing for eviction may be the only remaining option. This is a legal action that allows you to get a judgement and start the process to get the tenant out of the property. Having good legal representation is vital.

5. File for Writ of Restitution

This is where the court will then issue the writ of restitution. The writ of restitution will be served to the tenant by the sheriff or constable and if needs be they will physically remove the tenant so that you can receive possession to the property. 

Additional Tips:

  • Document Everything: Keep meticulous records of all interactions with the resident, including emails, late rent notices, and any eviction proceedings.
  • Consult with an Attorney: To ensure you're following the letter of the law, consult with an attorney who specializes in tenant-landlord issues. Each state is different and your attorney or if you have a Property Management company they can guide the process. 
  • Be Patient: Eviction can be a lengthy and frustrating process. Stay patient and follow the legal procedures carefully.


While dealing with a non-paying tenant can be an exhausting experience, following the above guidelines can help you navigate the situation with confidence. Attempt to resolve the issue through communication first and be prepared to follow through with legal action if necessary.

If you're a landlord facing this or any other tenant-related challenges, I hope these tips prove helpful in protecting your rights and achieving a satisfactory resolution.