Guide to Being a Landlord #7: What to Do When the Rent is Overdue

This article is an edited extract from

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In part seven of our guide for first-time landlords, Michael Drouillard explains how to navigate the tricky issue of non-rent-payment

Landlording in Canada Kit by Michael Drouillard, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. To download the full e-book or for more information, click here.

Last time, we looked at proper documentation and what to do on move-in day, including making it clear that if the tenant doesn’t pay on time, you will immediately issue an eviction notice.

Hopefully your tenant follows your rules to the letter, but what happens if rent day comes and goes with no rent payment arriving? Here are the steps you should follow.

1. Don’t call the tenant. Instead, serve them with an official BC 10-day eviction notice, as you warned you would. Here’s a link to a template from the BC Residential Tenancy Branch, which also has lots of other useful templates and forms.

2. Avoid the possibility of a confrontation by serving the notice with registered mail. In BC, the notice is considered to have been served on the day on which the tenant signs for the letter, or five days after you send it, if the tenant does not show or say that they received it earlier..

3. If you’re going to charge a late fee, be consistent. If you don’t charge late fees from day one, then every time the tenant is late paying rent, they will expect you to waive the late fee as you did before.

4. Your introduction letter informed the tenant that you send eviction notices for late rent as a matter of routine. Nonetheless, your tenant may believe it is excessive for you to serve one so soon. Include a cover letter with your eviction notice explaining why eviction was served. The cover letter takes the place of a phone call to the tenant. Sending a letter is preferable, because a phone call will catch the tenant off guard, and he or she might react defensively.

The eviction notice you served gives the tenant a deadline to pay all rental arrears in full. Mistakes and honest oversights happen, and odds are high you will receive payment in full before the deadline. Furthermore, this timely response to a late rent payment improves the chance it won’t happen again. On the other hand, if your tenant doesn’t pay the rent by the deadline, and if it appears trouble is looming, you have wisely minimized your potential losses by wasting no time in initiating a legal process that can take significant time to complete.

If your property is not in BC, remember that a few provinces do not permit the landlord to serve an eviction notice the day after the rent was due. They impose a grace period of one to two weeks before the landlord may serve an eviction notice. However, on the day after the rent was due, you should still send a warning letter and charge a late rent fee.

Next time: Dealing with noisy and disruptive tenants


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