Probably the most challenging task for landlords is collecting rent from tenants. This is why so many property investors elect to outsource the management of their rental properties to property management firms. You may have heard this saying before:
Landlords are in the people business.
Managing tenants and forging a great relationship can be learned. Interpersonal skills are needed no matter what you do in life and even the deepest of introverts can learn how to communicate professionally with tenants. So work on developing these skills before you rent out your property, as they will come in handy when you’re faced with the challenge of dealing with ongoing late rent payments or no payments! Most of us at some time spend more than we earn and your tenants will also find themselves in this predicament at some stage during their tenancy in your property.
In America about half of all Americans’ spend all their pay packet every month and they’re not alone, in most western countries it’s endemic. There are some wonderful resources for managing money to live within your means and encouraging your tenants to skill up on managing their money is a win, win for you and them. Here are some tips:
Encourage your tenants to set up a direct debit (ideally) or at worst an auto payment of the rent and for the transaction to coincide with their wages so as soon as they’re paid the rent is paid too. The auto payment of all bills is a great way to manage outgoings more so for your tenant so they can work out what funds are left over for nice to have items or socialising. If your tenant doesn’t have automatic payments set up, landlords can use online accounting software like Xero to create an invoice to send to their tenants each month.
Starting out on the front foot gives the control back so encourage your tenant to be in control and thus work out a budget they can stick to. Their budget can include their fixed outgoings, and discretionary spending as well as savings. With a budget that includes savings, goals can be set to spend the savings, like on a holiday or to put down a deposit on a property!
Encourage responsibility and the necessity to change behaviour in your tenant if they’re clearly struggling to pay their rent on time, or at all! The size of their income is less important than what they do with it. Securing a roof over their head, is one of the basic needs that was taken care of by your tenant’s parents or guardian so it’s daunting and challenging for them to take on the responsibility. A paradigm shift is required and changing spending patterns will greatly empower your tenant to embrace the responsibility of a tenancy agreement and all that’s required to honour their side of the agreement.
Incentivise or Penalise?
To get your tenant to pay on time do you incentivise and if they pay late more than a couple of times do you penalise? Well, the threat of a penalty for late payment is a strategy that works for businesses like utility providers so why wouldn’t it work for Landlords? Late payment fees are a given and if receiving the rent late adds a penalty to your late mortgage payments, passing on the fee is local. However it may not be legal to do so, check the tenancy law. Incentivising good behaviour including the paying of rent on time can be done with an annual gift or ‘rent holiday’. Landlords can give their tenants a rent holiday (i.e. a week or more rent free).