I Can`t Pay the Rent Because. . .

I Can’t Pay The Rent Because I Have to Pay My 16-Year-Old’s Cell Phone Bill

by Sandy Shores, M & M Real Estate

Boy with phoneWell, here it is, the 4th of the month already. My tenants’ rents are due on the 1st of each month. I have a provision on my lease that allows each tenant a grace period, until the 5th, to still pay without a $35 late fee.

I enjoy being a landlord.

However, I don’t like it when tenants aren’t honest with me. And, they all know that. I tell them at move in,If you ever run into a problem, and you know that you aren’t going to have the rent on time, just call me and we’ll work it out. Everyone has a problem sometimes.”

After being a landlord for 12 years now, I think I’m pretty upfront and straightforward. I tell them, “don’t play games with me, that’s when we’ll start having problems.” And for the most part, my husband and I feel fortunate. The majority of our tenants are honest, hard working people that are easy to get along with. I really like them. And some are finding it tight in today’s economy.

I don’t like playing games and if I haven’t heard from one of them by the 5th of the month, they know one of us will be on the phone to them or knocking on their door. If the tenant doesn’t pay, the mortgage still has to be paid. That just means we have to front the money, until they do pay.

Last month I got a phone call from one of my tenants. She has called the last several months also.”Sandy, I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be able to pay the rent this month until around the 30th. I have other things to take care of.”

Well, anyone that has rented from us for any period of time knows that we will not let the rent carryover from one month to another. That is an absolute recipe for disaster! I have never done it and I won’t start now. If they get that far behind, 99% of the time, they will never be able to catch back up again.

Well, what’s the problem that you’re having?” I responded.

Well, my 16 year old son (that won’t go to school) went over his cell phone minutes this month and his bill is over $400, so I have to pay it, otherwise it will be cut off. I have some birthday gifts to buy. And, I’m behind on my electric bill, they are threatening to disconnect. So, you’ll get the rent around the 30th,” she continued.

This is not the first time I have received a similar story from this particular tenant.

I responded politely, “I appreciate you calling me ahead of time to let me know what’s going on. HOWEVER (and that’s a big HOWEVER), I suppose it really isn’t going to matter if your 16 year old son has a cell phone, your friend gets her gifts or whether you have electricity, if you no longer have a roof over your head!”

“WHAT ARE YOU SAYING Sandy!!!!!?????,” she shouted.

My response, “I suggest you rethink your priorities. You have until the 10th of the month to pay me the rent, otherwise, we will have no choice but to begin eviction proceedings.”


I haven’t heard whether or not her 16 year old son’s cell phone or her electricity was ever shut off, or whether she was able to purchase those gifts.

Sandy Shores is with M & M Real Estate in Brevard County, Florida, providing Residential, Investment & Relocations, serving all of your buying, selling and investing needs in Brevard County Real Estate. She also buys, sells, rents, owns & manages investment property.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment including REAL ESTATE FORMS, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

Learn how electronic payment technology has become easy and affordable in Collect Your Rent the Easy Way With Electronic Payments.

See our feature 12 Eviction Mistakes That Can Sink You.

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