Tenants not paying rent is certainly one of the biggest concerns for Kenyan landlords. Dealing with non-payment of rent can be, at best, time-consuming and stressful. At worst, it could mean the difference between a landlord meeting their monthly mortgage payments or falling into arrears themselves. So, what can you do?
If you feel in the dark about dealing with a tenant not paying, here are 7 action steps you should take.
Have a good system like SILQU in place to monitor payments, so you know straightaway if there’s a problem. Make sure you have covered off all the essential requirements of being a landlord.
Keep in touch with your tenant, without hassling them. Be approachable, so they will come to you first with any problems, and be proactive in directing them to sources of debt advice.
Keep a record of rent payments
Even before there is a problem, it’s a good idea to have efficient tech systems in place with proper documentation. Keep a record of when rent payments are due and paid, especially if you have multiple tenants, and send dated receipts each month is vital in understanding tenant behavior.
Clear communication channels
If your tenants have not paid their rent on time, don’t hang on, hoping they’ll get around to it. Have the conversation to find out why they haven’t paid by the due date. They may have a short-term issue that has affected their cash flow, and together you may be able to find a solution. If they have previously been a good tenant, it may be worth being flexible.
Consider reducing the rent
If you have a good relationship with your tenant, it could be that reducing the rent for a short period could be a good option. It will help your tenant out and could save you the headaches and costs involved in finding a replacement. If you do this, you might want to make it clear in writing that the reduction is for a set period only, and give a date by which the rent will return to its previous amount.
Suggest a way forward
Once you have clarity on the reasons why your tenant is not paying their rent on time, suggest a way forward. This could be recommending a payment plan so your tenant can pay off any arrears over a period of time. Or you could suggest they appoint a guarantor if they don't have one already. However, be clear that further action could be taken if your tenant falls behind with their rent again and put everything discussed verbally in writing. If you have still been unable to contact your tenant, you should write to them...
Know the eviction laws
Understand the process when it comes to evicting tenants. This will make it a lot less daunting if you need to go down the legal route