Several factors can cause friction between tenants and landlords. Delayed rent payment is among the top causes. Reading the tenancy agreement and asking the landlord all the right questions before renting the house can help avert several such issues. As a part of the tenancy agreement, there is a particular clause that both the parties agree upon regarding delayed rent payments. This is among the many crucial points that any tenant has to pay attention to before moving into a rental apartment.
It is difficult to provide a direct answer to doubts about eviction following late payments. There are various factors to consider –
- What is the grace period agreed upon in the lease agreement?
- How many days have passed since the tenant missed the due date?
- Has the landlord given a notice?
In most cases, the landlord fixes a predefined grace period right at the time of framing the rental contract. There are no strict laws that put a number to this aspect. It is also not mandatory for the landlord to include such a grace period. However, no matter how honest and punctual a tenant is when it comes to paying the rent, there could be unprecedented causes for slight delays. To accommodate these unpredicted factors, alone landlords sometimes provide a grace period. However, the tenant should ideally not wait until the grace period unless there is an unavoidable situation.
In some cases, some landlords also define a fine or a late payment fee for delayed payments. The tenant has to pay this extra fee along with the usual rent in those cases where the rent payment happens beyond the due date but within the grace period. Landlords might also choose to set slabs that increase the fee based on the number of days of delay. This is not a mandatory condition but an optional inclusion that landlords might include to encourage timely payments and to avoid the hassles that follow delays for both the parties.
How late is too late?
This is another critical aspect that influences how a landlord reacts. Some tenants are always regular. In such cases, if there occurs a time where there might be a slight delay, the tenant can inform the landlord and request an extension and make sure that the rent payment occurs within the grace period. Most landlords who include the grace period clause in their tenancy agreement would agree to wait that period before taking further steps. If the tenant repeatedly delays payments, the landlord can send a notice. Extending till the grace period for frequent rent payments can create tension with the landlord.
Notice comes before eviction
Among various other aspects, the legalities of tenant notice and eviction depend on the state of residence. Different states have different laws when it comes to handling rental payment disputes. One thing remains common, and that is the fact that landlords cannot evict the tenant simply after one delayed payment. Disputes occurring due to delay in payments first call for a notice from the landlord. The way the landlord sends the notice to the tenant is another factor that varies from one state to another. In some states, the landlord has to personally handover the notice. There are many states where sending the notice in the mail would be legal.
What is the notice all about?
The notice that the landlord sends can require the tenant to perform different actions depending on the type of notifications sent.
“Pay Rent or Quit” notice is the most common type of notice given for late payments. It is also one of the most straightforward options which make the process smooth for the tenant and the landlord alike. The terms of the notice define a period within which the tenant has to pay the delayed rent. If the tenant has repeatedly been delaying payments, the landlord might choose to issue this notice. Usually, the tenant gets 3 to 5 days to rectify the problem by paying the pending rent and late payment fee, if any defined by the tenancy agreement. If the tenant fails to pay the rent even after the said period, the landlord can still not forcefully evict the tenant. The landlord can instead send an eviction notice.
“Unconditional Quit” notice is the other type of legal notice that landlords can issue to tenants. These are versatile and can be used for various types of eviction calls. In the case of payment delays, most landlords resort to this method only when there is a history of multiple delayed payments from the tenant. The landlord might not be willing to wait for the lapse of the grace period or send a “Pay rent or quit” notice repeatedly.
If the tenant doesn’t take the intended step even after receiving a legal notice, then the landlord can use the proof of notice issue and file an eviction lawsuit. Under normal circumstances, the landlord can only issue an eviction notice with a long notice period. This notice period could be 1 to 3 months in most cases. These are times where the tenant has been paying rents on time, but the landlord wishes to evict for some other reason.
There are many grounds on which the landlord can call for an eviction. When the fault is on the tenant’s side, the tenant can choose to resolve the conflict by promising to pay the rent on time and continue to keep up the promise. This negotiation might be on friendly terms and not legally executed if the landlord wishes so. However, if there are multiple instances, landlords can send notice without discussion. The law doesn’t prohibit landlords from sending a notice if the delay has been just one day. This is the case with most states. In the end, it is all about the landlord’s decision. The sequence of issuing notice, filing a lawsuit, and proceeding through legal terms remain the same in most places. This is to protect tenants from landlords who forcefully evict tenants with just a single delayed payment.