Successfully Dealing With a Late-paying Tenant Without an Eviction

No late rental payments
No late rental payments

I was speaking with a landlord recently about getting good tenants and what to do with  late-paying tenants while avoiding the eviction process. Jack has been in the business for close to 20 years and has a couple of dozen properties.

He explained his very effective method to deal with late paying tenants.

After conducting the background screening but before the lease is signed, Jack sits down with the applicant and clearly reviews the rules regarding rent payment.

They are-

1. Rent is due on the 1st

2. If the payment is not received by the 1st of the month there is a $50 late payment.

3. If the rent and late payment is not received by the 3rd of the month they  will a receive a 3-Day Notice.

4. There are no exceptions.

A 3-day notice advises tenants that they are being asked to leave or that an eviction action will be brought against them. They are also advised to seek legal assistance if they have any questions or concerns. (This landlord’s properties are in Ohio and laws do vary from state to state, so please check with your attorney or state’s landlord tenant laws) You can also check out to see a sample and learn more.

Once the 3-day notice is delivered, he calls the tenant and tells them, “You are more than 3 days late with your rent and I want you out as I warned you about this before you signed the lease.”

Jack then makes the tenant the following offer, “If you are out by the week-end I will pay you $250. If you agree I will meet you at the property with your check. If the property is clean and in good shape, I will give you the check in exchange for the keys. If you do not agree, I will immediately start the eviction proceedings.”

Over the years, he had only one tenant that declined this offer.

He knows his ex-tenant is probably at a bar buying drinks with his new-found money bragging about getting over on his landlord. But Jack is the one that has come out ahead.

Jack has avoided paying the costs associated with filing the eviction. The property was left clean and in good condition, which would be very unlikely if the tenant was evicted. And he has the security deposit, which covers the cost of the payment and some of the lost rent.

Jack spends very little time chasing down the rent from late-paying tenants by being very clear about the rules before the lease is signed and strictly adhering to them.

TenantMagic provides comprehensive application and tenant screening at no cost to real estate agents, property managers and landlords. Applicants pay the fee

Jay Apple is co-founder of TenantMagic, LLC

Please note that this post relates to an approach to dealing with late paying tenants and is not meant to be considered legal advice.

Credit Report Criteria Changes Affecting Real Estate Agents and Landlords


credit reports, tenant screening
Changes to credit reporting criteria impacting real estate agents and landlords

Effective July, 1 2017 there are going to be changes regarding credit report criteria.  They were announced by the  National Consumer Assistance Plan last year.

The changes now take data accuracy and quality into consideration and specifically address-

  • Medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day “waiting period” to allow insurance payments to be applied. The CRAs will also remove from credit reports previously reported medical collections that have been or are being paid by insurance.
  • Consistent standards will be reinforced by the credit bureaus to lenders and others that submit data for inclusion in a credit report (data furnishers).
  • Data furnishers will be prohibited from reporting authorized users without a date of birth and the CRAs will reject data that does not comply with this requirement.
  • The CRAs will eliminate the reporting of debts that did not arise from a contract or agreement by the consumer to pay, such as traffic tickets or fines.
  • A multi-company working group of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies has been formed to regularly review and help ensure consistency and uniformity in the data submitted by data furnishers for inclusion in a consumer’s credit report.

Recently there have been a number of articles and announcements about these changes. What landlords and real estate agents using credit reports as part of their tenant screening need to know is that there should be only a minimal impact. And those changes should help clarify some information you are getting in your reports.

The new policy will require any record reported to a credit bureau to contain a name, social security number and/or birthdate, as well as an address. Tax liens and civil debt reports will likely be most impacted as SSNs are not included as a security precaution.

The accuracy of the reporting should be improved by matching records. As a result, reports with false positives should be reduced.

As I have mentioned in other postings, a credit report alone is not sufficient to adequately assess a rental applicant. Agents and landlords also need eviction and criminal reports. When you combine the three you get a much more robust view to make an informed decision.

TenantMagic provides comprehensive application and tenant screening at no cost to real estate agents, property managers and landlords. Applicants pay the fee.

Jay Apple is co-founder of TenantMagic, LLC

Ignore at Your Own Peril

In a previous post I wrote about the 4 critical steps you need to take when considering rental applicants. They are –

  1. Pre-screen your tenants by clearly communicating your residency standards
  2. Require complete applications, have each co-applicant complete their own individual application and collect an application fee
  3. Conduct a comprehensive background screening for every applicant and co-applicant 18 years or older that includes credit, criminal and eviction results
  4. Make sure the applicant’s ID is properly verified. Is the applicant who they say they are?

However, going through all the effort to properly screen an applicant is useless if you don’t pay attention to the results.

Here is a story from Tina who didn’t pay attentions to the screening report results.

“This new applicant was a nice guy and has a sweet dog, but I am never going to forgo the Tenant Magic approval again after what happened with my last tenant. I had her complete the application and go through the screening program, the recommendation was to refuse the applicant, and boy do I wish I had listened.  What a worthless nightmare she turned out to be.  Thanks for your help.  We’ll see what he does.”

This a great example of being able to learn a valuable lesson from the (easily avoidable) mistake of someone else.

“Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”

Why customer service is so important from your tenant screening provider.

Even with the best tenant screening providers, there are times when the applicant can try to game the system and requires additional investigation.

Recently we were asked to take a look at the screening report of an applicant for a high end multi-unit rental property that we processed. We were told that something didn’t feel right about it.

The applicant’s credit report was returned as a Thin File, which meant that the applicant had no credit history. The applicant was 32 years old and having no credit history is unusual, but it’s not unheard of.

The Eviction Report showed 3 evictions over the past 5 years for a person with the same name as the applicant. Housing/Municipal courts do not use dates of birth or social security numbers when reporting evictions, so you do get false positives especially with someone with a common name.

At TenantMagic we compare known addresses reported by the credit bureau with the reported eviction address for the applicant. If there is a match, then we know it was the applicant that was evicted. However, in this case the applicant did not have a credit history, so we didn’t have any known addresses to cross reference.

The applicant made sure not to report his actual address on the application and used one of a relative, where he could have lived at some point.

The credit bureau did indicate that there was not enough historical information to make a firm recommendation on the applicant’s risk level. So now what do you do?

How do you determine if the applicant is qualified, even after completing a background screening?

The real estate agent for the owner called us with her concerns. The TenantMagic customer service team did a review and saw that the applicant did have some minor charges that showed up in the criminal report. We retrieved the court documents and took a deeper dive.

Criminal and traffic courts do report addresses and date of birth. In this case when we looked at the court reports, they discovered that the applicant lived at the address where the eviction was reported. We then confirmed this, as the date of birth matched with what was entered in the application.

Recent prior evictions are a major red flag for any landlord. A person who was evicted in the past is likely to be evicted again. The lengths this applicant went to hide previous addresses is cause for even greater alarm.

TenantMagic reported this to the agent and owner with the actual court reports, allowing the owner to quickly make a decision and move on to the next applicant. No time was wasted by the agent or owner. The decision was made to decline based on solid Fair Housing-compliant information.

Moral of this story. Even comprehensive background screening reports don’t tell the whole story and can require additional analysis. Agents and owners can spend the time themselves to do it and hope they get it right or they can use a full service application and background screening company to provide the information for them to make a qualified decision.