If you have tried your hand at property management, you are likely to know that being a landlord is not only collecting money and dealing with maintenance requests. Sometimes it’s more about disputes, negotiations, and even reports to the credit bureaus. Yes, property management can boost your problem-solving skills better than a specialized class at university.
The bitter truth is that even the most competent landlords are not immune from dealing with unfaithful tenants. There is no type of renter screening that can reveal one’s true colors. Given this, it is highly advisable to hope for the best, but be prepared for all eventualities. Since delinquent tenants are probably the worst of what can happen to a landlord, we’ve created this supreme guide on how to deal with them.
What to Do About Delinquent Tenants?
Eviction and reporting to the credit bureaus should always be considered the last resort measures. It is safe to say that those are the most efficient ways of dealing with delinquent tenants, but there are many things you can do before going to extremes.
Double-check the lease agreement and payment reports to make sure that your tenant is indeed late.
Send a late rent notice saying that the rent is already past-due. Include a short warning about possible legal actions.
Give your tenant a phone call to clarify the situation.
Provide a quit notice that clearly conveys how much you are owed and the final due date by which the debt must be cleared. It is ok to tell about your intent to evict.
Should none of the above-mentioned measures help, feel free to report your tenant to the credit bureaus and start the eviction process.
Why Reporting Tenants to the Credit Bureaus?
Just like good behavior calls for appraisal, bad behavior requires punishment. That’s the way the world wags. Dealing with delinquent tenants is tiresome and annoying, and it’s likely to result not in your favor. However, there is one thing you can do to lighten things up. And this is reporting unfaithful tenants to a credit bureau.
Under the best circumstances, this decision can even help you get the owed rent money or compensation for the damage caused by a tenant. But reporting to a credit bureau is not only about money; there is a higher purpose behind it. When you report an irresponsible tenant, you save other landlords from running into the same trap by renting their apartments out to unfaithful people. Although you reveal the problem of only one person, and it may seem like a drop in the ocean, it still matters.
How to Report a Delinquent Tenant?
The answer to this question depends greatly on your regular landlord’s behavior. Experience shows us that all landlords fall into two camps. Those who report tenants regularly and those who do not care about it at all. Depending on which camp you belong to, your course of action will be different.
If You Report Regularly
If you report both the good and the bad about your tenant’s behavior on a regular basis, all you need to do is keep up with this activity. Your claim will be registered automatically.
There is a great virtue about regular reports. Firstly, it disciplines your tenants to pay on time since they know that their paying behavior is under supervision. Secondly, it’s easier for you to report a delayed payment or any other problem with your tenant once you are already a regular client of the credit bureaus.
If You Don’t Report Regularly
If you prefer not to trouble yourself with monthly reports, things get a little bit harder. But it is still not rocket science, so you will sure be able to figure things out.
First and foremost, you need to understand that there are many different bureaus you can report to. The chief among them are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, and they are also known as ‘the big three.’ Each one maintains a consumer credit database of its own, and you need to become a registered client to be able to report information. If you fail to subscribe, your information will not be included in a tenant’s credit history. Subscription requirements vary by the bureau, but they are usually limited to paying registration fees and having required equipment to be able to submit reports electronically.
The next step you need to take is associated with collecting necessary documentation. If your tenant is guilty of delayed payments, you’ll need to provide unpaid bills to support your claim. If your problem is related to the damage your tenants refuse to pay for, then you’ll have to provide photos that illustrate and vouch for the problem.
The last but not least, you will need your tenant’s social security number. Although some landlords believe that the habit of collecting SNN numbers has already sunk into oblivion, it is better to be safe than sorry.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Reporting Tenants?
Rental information falls into the category of ‘alternative credit data,’ meaning that you are not obliged to report the credit information of your tenants, but you can do this at your own discretion.
Since negative reports to the credit bureau are damaging to the tenants, you hold a legal responsibility of updating all information both timely and accurately. Make sure to notify the credit bureaus once the debt is paid.
According to the law, you must notify your tenant about a negative report within 30 days from the moment of submitting a report.
You hold a legal and moral responsibility to report only accurate information. Otherwise, you’ll become a subject of civil penalties or fines.
As you can see, reporting rent to credit bureaus is a little confusing, but it is nowhere close to impossible. If you made it here, you know why and how to report your tenants to the credit bureau and you can explain in detail why this measure is necessary. Armed with knowledge, you are one step ahead of the majority of landlords.
Mariia serves as editor-in-chief and writer for the Rentberry and Landlord Tips blogs. She covers topics such as landlord-tenant laws, tips and advice for renters, investment opportunities in various cities, and more. She holds a master’s degree in strategic management, and you can find her articles in such publications as Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, Benzinga, and RealEstateAgent.