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What to Do if Atlanta Renters Don't Pay Their Rent

What to Do if Atlanta Renters Don't Pay Their Rent

Updated January 11, 2022

Even without a pandemic or nationwide economic challenges, investment property owners will always deal with renters who can't (or won't) pay the rent on time (or at all) in Metro Atlanta.

Your Atlanta rental property is an investment in your future. Without residents paying the rent on time every month, your investment becomes an expensive liability-and that's not why you chose to become a real estate investor. You know that lost income doesn't support your long-term financial goals - but what can you do if renters don't pay their rent? 

How you handle late rental payments can impact your success as an Atlanta rental property owner. The best property management company Atlanta offers can help investors collect the rent every month. Here are our best tips for handling renters who delay or withhold rental payments.

Note: This article is not legal counsel! When you need help collecting rent, reach out to your attorney about your options or the expert full-service property management professionals at Revolution Rental Management, formerly known as GTL Real Estate.

Property Owner Need to Ask Questions

Residents don't pay the rent for a variety of reasons. Whether they are struggling financially or they're just a bad renter who refuses to pay, one thing always remains true for every situation: the rent is still due on time. That's why if the rent ever comes late, residential property managers can make sure to pay property owners the very same week it comes in-instead of the following month.

However, if you have a renter who doesn't pay on time, you need to take quick action. This can be a complicated process, but it's important to remember that the rent is still due on time. There are many reasons why residents may not pay their rent, but landlords need to remain calm and focused and try to get the details behind the late rent payment.

Here are a couple of things you can do:

  • First, landlords should reach out to the tenants and find out why they haven't paid. There may be a reasonable explanation, or the tenant may simply be trying to avoid paying rent.
  • Second, landlords need to have a policy in place that outlines what will happen if rent is late, and it's also necessary for landlords to follow this policy every single time.
  • Finally, landlords should work with a residential property management company that can take care of everything.

If the tenant doesn't respond, landlords can begin the eviction process. This can be a long and challenging process, but sometimes, the eviction process is inevitable.

Maintain Excellent Documentation

Excellent documentation that prevents an eviction from happening starts with an ironclad lease agreement for your rental properties. When choosing a new renter for your Atlanta rental property, make sure your lease includes:

  • Clear expectations about rental payment due dates and amounts
  • Fees for late payments (and the schedule for assessing these fees)
  • Details about eviction procedures if a renter fails to pay the rent and applicable fees.

The lease becomes the guide to enforcing the rules and collecting the rent when a resident misses a payment. As you work through the procedures documented in the lease, keep track of every communication, and add those notes to your documentation regarding a late or missing payment. Keep a record of every notice you send to the renter and their responses (or lack of response).

The documentation should include any form of contact with a renter, whether through a phone conversation, a text message, an email, or a personal exchange.

If the situation progresses without receiving the rental payment, you'll need this detailed documentation to support a case for eviction and recovering compensation (if necessary). 

Stay Calm and Compassionate

During difficult financial times, compassion can be a valuable part of maintaining good relationships with your renters. If you're a landlord and one of your renters doesn't pay their rent, there are a few things you can do to try and resolve the situation.

First, stay calm and listen to what your renter has to say. They may have a valid reason for not paying their rent on time, or they may be able to work out a payment plan with you. If the renter doesn't have a valid reason for not paying their rent, or if they're unable to work out a payment plan with you, you may need to take legal action.

In either case, it's crucial to stay professional and respectful throughout the entire process.

As a Metro Atlanta rental property owner, you have flexibility in enforcing the lease rules about paying the rent. When you recognize that you have a bad renter simply taking advantage of an economic crisis, enforcing the rules and late fees is generally appropriate. However, if a renter can't pay the rent due to a job or income loss, offering short-term arrangements can help you get paid while showing struggling residents that you care.

A temporary arrangement could involve waiving late fees or extending the payment deadline for a few weeks. You may also want to consider reducing the rent amount until your renter can get back on their feet.

Work With Your Renters

Generating income from your Atlanta rental property is essential, and maintaining excellent relationships is the best way to boost your long-term success. Sometimes working with your renters on a rent payment schedule or delaying late fees helps everyone win while building a positive experience for residents as they rebuild their income. 

Be careful about becoming a 'pushover.' Compassion is critical, but investors need to be careful when renters don't pay their rent. While it's essential to be compassionate, landlords should never put themselves into a worse financial situation to help renters when they can't pay the rent. However, setting up a graduating payment plan can help renters mitigate income loss for a month or two while still delivering the total rent they owe by the end of the lease term. This will help both the landlord and the renter in the long run.

Multicultural politicians gesturing while standing in boardroom

Seek Legal Help When It's Merited

Your compassion should only go so far with an Atlanta renter who simply refuses to pay the rent. When residents take advantage of an economic crisis or use any other reasons to forego the lease rules, your flexibility should quickly come to an end. 

Before evicting a renter, consult your legal counsel or your full-service property management companyFollow the law in Atlanta to ensure the proper timing for eviction and protect your investments and income. The reality is that eviction should always be your last resort: our eviction rate in 2019 was only 1.67% compared to the Atlanta average of 5.12%. Alternative solutions are possible-but you need an expert to pull them off.

Hire an Atlanta Rental Property Management Company to Collect the Rent

Hiring a property manager takes the stress off of investors when renters delay or withhold rental payments-for any reason. The property management team of Revolution Rental Management, formerly known as GTL Real Estate, provides guaranteed solutions that take the risk out of being a rental property owner.

We provide an absolute guarantee that you'll receive your rental payments no later than the 11th of each month. If a resident doesn't pay on time, we pay you out of our own pocket while working with your renters to get them caught up.

With our expert property management services, we keep our eviction rate lower than the local average because it's better for your income when we choose high-quality renters and collect the rent. When renters don't pay the rent, let us help! Contact us to learn more.