While New Jersey has banned all evictions and foreclosures through the end of the year, property owners are still allowed to bring eviction cases to court and begin the legal proceedings to evict a non-paying tenant. If you are a New Jersey landlord experiencing difficulty getting on time rent payments, you may be considering eviction. Keep in mind, though, that the eviction process is expensive and stressful. There is plenty you can do as the property owner to ensure you are making every effort to get rent payments. If you are looking to avoid the NJ eviction process, here are some tips to securing on-time rent payments.
1. Double-check Your Contact Information
Communication is crucial to maintaining a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. Making sure you have the most up-to-date contact information for your tenant is crucial to securing on-time monthly payments. People change their phone numbers and e-mail addresses all the time. Your tenant may have forgotten to update you with this information. With the right contact information, you can send automated reminders about upcoming rent payments and also make personal contact in the event a tenant does not pay. Checking in with late paying tenants personally can help you understand the situation and get ahead of any issues or concerns.
2. A Promise to Pay Agreement
You need to have a plan in place for late or missed payments and your tenants need to be aware of this plan. Be reasonable with your plans. If a specific tenant who typically pays on-time and in-full every month suddenly has an issue, it is likely they are experiencing a sudden financial problem and may just need some extra time to secure the funds for rent. In this case, it may be better for you financially to accept what they can manage to pay now and create a new payment plan going forward. Ask the tenant to sign a Promise to Pay so you have written evidence that you and the tenant are working towards full payment.
3. Late Payment Fees
You can also set-up a late payment fee to help deter consistent late payments. Late fees should be applied consistently across tenants. Tenants should be aware of the late fee from the beginning of their lease and should be updated to any changes in potential late fees in a timely manner.
4. A Pay or Quit Notice
If you have tried talking to your tenants, setting up alternative payment plans, and applied late fees, it may unfortunately be time to move forward with eviction. The first step is serving the tenant with a Pay or Quit Notice. This should be served directly to the tenant's address and will notify them of a due date by which to pay any pending rent money or face eviction. If the tenant does not pay by the specified due date, you will be within your rights to begin eviction proceedings. Notify the tenant of your intentions and keep all copies of documentation.
There are plenty of things you can do as a New Jersey property owner to ensure consistent monthly rent payments. While you cannot control everything, having a clear procedure for collecting rent and working with tenants on late payments can alleviate some stress for you and for your NJ renters.