Pay or Quit Notice Overview
Dealing with delinquent tenants is one of the most stressful aspects of being a landlord. Luckily, there are tools you can use to make the process smoother. One of these is the pay or quit notice.
What Does a Pay or Quit Notice Mean?
A landlord issues a 5 day notice to pay or quit to a tenant if they believe the latter owes them overdue rent or any other debt associated with the lease agreement.
A pay or vacate notice is usually the first warning sent to a tenant who has late rental payments. It serves a subtle reminder for them to pay up, and eliminates any reasons they may have had for avoiding the payment.
Legally, as a landlord you must first send a notice to pay rent or vacate before you can file a lawsuit or eviction proceeding in court. In a way, the notice lets the tenants know that you are about to perform legal actions unless they fulfill their financial obligation.
If the tenant pays before then, or if they believe the rent due is already paid, they need to prove it to continue staying on your rental property.
When to Send
First, it’s always best to resolve rental problems by getting in touch with the tenant directly. Give them a call or arrange a time to come by the property to speak in person. Most responsible tenants, who might have forgotten, should respond and resolve the issue right away.
If they are unresponsive or, worse, reacting aggressively, then a pay rent or quit notice is your next best course. It's important not to wait too long before sending this notice out. If you wait for months and let a few more rental payments slip by, you risk the tenant leaving the property without paying you at all.
Some landlords are more “generous” with sending out notices, giving out 5 days instead of a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit the moment the tenant misses a payment. It's an excellent deterrent to force them to always pay on time, but it might paint you as a "demanding" or "heartless" landlord.
What to Include
Since a pay or quit notice can be legally used in court, it should be as detailed and error-free as possible. There are plenty of excellent notice to quit samples and 3 day pay or quit forms you can base yours upon. Most are available online or with us here at AAOA.
To give you an overview, here are some of the crucial things you need to include:
- The number of days notice you’re giving to the tenant
- The name of all the tenants living in the property
- The complete address of the property
- All delinquent payments, including amounts and due dates
- The total amount owed, listed at the end of the notice
- A statement saying you’re giving the tenant a set number of days to pay their rent as per state laws or move out
- Complete payment details (bank account numbers, check mailing addresses)
- Date and signature
How to Send a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
Writing a late payment notice is only half the battle: you also need to make sure your tenant gets it. Here are a few methods you can use.
The easiest, quickest, and most cost-effective way is to hand over the notice yourself. However, this might not always be ideal, as it can be awkward. Plus, if there are already tensions between you and the tenant, things might turn ugly.
If the tenant is unavailable to receive your notice, you can have someone of legal age receive the letter on their behalf.
If the tenant is unresponsive, you can post the notice on the front door of the property, then mail a second copy to the house.
Finally, if all else fails, consider hiring a professional server. It’s a convenient option, but one that also costs more.
What Happens if a Tenant Refuses to Pay?
If, after repeated notices, your tenant is still not responding or flatly refuses to pay, you can begin the eviction process with a court based on the landlord tenant law of your state. The tenant will be served a summons for a court trial before a judge.
If you win, the tenant is legally forced to vacate your property.
You can do this by obtaining a writ of possession with the local sheriff. It’s a document that gives you the right to change the locks of your rental property, even with the tenant in it. It’s usually done with the supervision of a sheriff.
If you need a late payment notice template or any other documents including tenant screening and lease agreement paperwork, sign up for an American Apartment Owners Association account today.