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December 20, 2016 |

Handling Rent Payment Delays With a Holiday Spirit

'Tis the season for making lofty holiday gift purchases, but when tenants go overboard on their holiday spending, they can fall short when rent time rolls around. Do holiday-related missed rent payments automatically signal the need to begin eviction proceedings?

It is seldom necessary to remove normally-reliable tenants from their homes on cold, snowy days. That said, a Boston landlord lawyer would likely recommend taking a close look at renters' overall payment histories and offer some suggestions that can help get rent collections back on track.  

Flexibility with Good Tenants Helps Everyone

It is not always easy to find great tenants. While landlords may experience some rent payment issues in December, January or even February, they need to look at the big picture. Tenants who normally pay in full and on-time are valuable commodities, especially if they are quiet, take good care of their units and get along with neighbors.

If the holidays break their near-perfect records, it is important to recognize that their loss through eviction might not be the landlord's gain. As long as flexibility does not put landlord budgets in stress, they might consider some of the following alternative methods for handling holiday-related payment delays:

  • Extend the deadline: Not all tenants would be comfortable with doubling next month's rent, but they might agree to pay an additional one-third over the next three months.
  • Charge late fees: Massachusetts law permits landlords to charge late fees, including interest once rent payments become 30 days overdue. Offer to accept late payment with interest.
  • Give a gift: Some long-term tenants deserve a holiday gift, so it might be worthwhile to recognize their value by offering a reduction (or even elimination) of a month's unpaid rent.
  • Offer alternative types of payment: It is possible to obtain non-cash alternatives to rent when tenants are willing to perform work that is valuable enough to replace the unpaid rent. Keep in mind that non-cash payments might still represent income from a state or federal income tax standpoint, so be sure to document the transaction and talk to a tax professional.

Note that any of these alternatives can represent some potential costs to you or affect your own immediate financial responsibilities. Consider your own finances before extending any type of offer.

Expect Eviction Delays During the Holiday Season

Of course, when dealing with tenants that have lengthy histories of non-payment of rent, eviction may represent the only alternative. Just like any government office, however, the courts are subject to extra delays as personnel takes time off for the holidays.

Even relatively small errors in filings can further delay evictions, so it is important to get every detail right. To help ensure that filings are complete and correct, call The Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin at (617) 848-4572.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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