“I’ll Have the Money Next Week…”

I just filed eviction on someone yesterday.  “Next week” never came.  Marvin had a decent factory job, and the pay was more than enough to justify his tenancy in my one bedroom unit.  He and his wife have been with me for about four months now.   They pay bi-weekly and all the utilities are included in the rent, which is nice for them.  One payment, every other week.  The home in which they live is a four-plex, and none of the utilities are metered separately, so I take an average of what the bills are and add it into the rent I ask for each apartment.  I actually add in more than necessary to reward myself for the extra work involved in carrying these bills for my tenants.  And they’re happy to pay it, because this simplifies their lives.  Works for them, works for me.  Beautiful!

Anyway, back to Marvin . . . he didn’t get his rent sent in three weeks ago and after a semi-threatening phone call from me, he called and said he’d lost his job and got a new one, but wasn’t getting paid til next week.  And possibly, the church was going to help as well, with the back rent.  They’d be calling me.  A woman from the church did call, and Marvin was only $260 behind at that point, but they didn’t come through with the money and neither did Marvin.

So here we are, now he’s $520 behind and I filed eviction.  His court date is in two weeks and Marvin doesn’t want to lose his home.  I totally understand that but I can’t allow people to stay without paying.  Marvin swore he’s sending me $300 tomorrow.

But here’s the catch . . . you can’t accept money after you’ve filed eviction on someone.  So, we’ll see if I get that money.  If I do, I’ll just hold onto it until the court date.  I told him he could stay if he was totally caught up before his court date, so if I receive all of it, I’ll cancel the eviction.  If I don’t get all the money, we’ll go to court and I’ll hand back whatever he has sent to me, and proceed with the eviction.

Here’s the deal.  If you start accepting partial payments, you’re going down a slippery slope with your tenants.  You’re telling them you’ll accept late payments, no payments, partial payments.  It’s a bad deal.  Your lease — like my airtight lease — should be very explicit about nonpayment of rent, late fees and the time frame for filing evictions.  You need to adhere to that lease.

In many cases, like Marvin’s, when the you-know-what hits the fan you need to be somewhat flexible.  People lose jobs, their cars break down, etc., and they may be late with a payment.  I usually try to work with them.  Briefly.  But if they don’t come up with the cash when promised, you need to be ready to jump on the eviction band wagon.

Remember, this isn’t about social work . . . this is about building wealth for your future.