The crucial conversation: Landlord and tenant communication when rent is late

Updated: Apr 14

We must start by agreeing that communication between landlord and tenant is key and as George Bernard Shaw once said that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

At this point, the assumption is that landlord and tenant have been in good communication since the beginning of the tenancy- if not, well that is different story.


Once the tenant has communicated that the rent will be late, its imperative the landlord keeps calm and not allow emotions to kick in. This is because its important one to appreciate the efforts by a tenant to communicate that the rent might be late and also because its good to have the tenants on your side.


Like any business, tenants are the customers and how you treat them determines a lot. the landlord must therefore try to resolve the situation and that can only be done by listening. There is always the unconscious nature in us of assuming that the late payment was intentional and a show or arrogance by the tenant but research has proven this not to be the case.


Some late payment may be occasioned by unforeseeable circumstances and even tenants falling sick. Regardless of the reason behind the late payment, the landlord must make sure that he/she asks the following three crucial questions;


a) What has caused the delay


b) When will it be paid and


c) What can you do to help


Keeping an eye on the price, the landlords outcome at such a situation is to collect rent and therefore they must become part of the solution. After getting the information from the above questions its highly advisable that the landlord documents the communication with the tenant.

This can be through a written letter but the simplest form is that after the call, the landlord can send a text or a mail to the tenant saying something like.....from our telephone conversation it came out that the reason for your late rent was (give your reason) and that you committed to have this paid on (indicate the date) and that all you are asking is if i can wait till that date.


From the conversation, we also agreed that the amount will be paid by (indicate the agreed date) without delay failure to which I will issue a notice to (the landlord can indicate what steps that were agreed between them). In other instances, the landlord together with the tenant can also come up with a rent arrears repayment plan in order to ensure that the balance is cleared.

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