Start any new rental term by strictly enforcing your rent payment policies. It is essential to develop the right habits with residents. I notice that every now and then whenever I get new residents, they are the very ones who are most likely to “test” to see if I am really going to enforce my due date and late fees.
Even though our policies are clearly and fully discussed at the lease signing, move-in inspection and in our Tenant Handbook the resident “testing the limits” within the first two to three months still sometimes occurs. However once the new resident sees that we are serious about our payment policies, and that we enforce our late charges, they quickly fall in line with the program, develop good paying habits and we almost always have a good working relationship from that point forward.
Do not think you are doing the resident a favor by allowing them to bend the rules at the beginning of the relationship.
You are simply allowing them to develop poor payment habits, which will much more likely get worse and often cause both them and especially you frustration throughout the term of the lease. Paying rent on time or paying it late is a habit. And you or I, as the landlord, play a vital role in helping to decide what type of habit your residents develop. Once a habit develops it tends to continue, so make sure you do your part to make it a habit of paying on time.
Enforce late charges and immediately start eviction when the law permits if necessary, again, especially at the beginning of the year and definitely at the beginning of any rental relationship. Yes, the economy is tough for many, but you are not doing your residents a favor if you help them develop poor payment habits.