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As a landlord, you likely feel frustrated when tenants do not pay their rent. For some, nonpayment could prove a one-time issue. Yet other tenants might never pay on time – or at all. If you’re at a loss with how to collect back rent from them, keep these tips in mind.

Communicate with the tenant

Open communication with your nonpaying tenant is the path of least resistance toward collecting rent. This method doesn’t work in every circumstance. But it may work with renters who are infrequently delinquent, or who have a history of repayment. By broaching the matter in person, your demand seems more reasonable than accusatory. If this initial contact doesn’t work, sending them a follow-up notice may do the trick.

Understand your legal right to rent

While conciliatory dealings may sound preferable to legal action, it is important for you to understand and defend your rights as a landlord. In Florida, you can serve nonpaying tenants with a 3-Day Notice to Quit form. When they receive this document, it indicates that they have three days to pay rent. If they do not pay, they will face eviction.

File eviction when necessary

If your tenant doesn’t pay rent after receiving a Notice to Quit form, it is within your right to evict them. In this case, you must file an eviction lawsuit against them. After you do, a sheriff or process server will then deliver notice of the suit to your tenant. Your tenant has five days to respond to it. If they do, their eviction becomes contested, and you will have to go through a hearing or mediation. Your tenant will also have to pay rent to the court registry to continue the contested process. If your tenant does not reply, their eviction is uncontested. In this case, a judge will issue a final judgment for eviction, and a clerk will file a writ of possession for a sheriff to issue. This writ gives your tenant 24 hours to vacate the premises.

Most landlords do not enjoy pursuing legal action against tenants. But it may be necessary when one is behind on their rent. If you’re having issues collecting payments from tenants, an attorney with real estate experience can help you determine the best way to do so.