What is the best time to serve a notice for nonpayment of rent?

A tenant is late with the monthly rent.  It is nearing the end of the month.  Should the landlord wait until the rent for the next month, which is due in just a few days, is also late before serving a notice for nonpayment of rent?  No way.  It is best to serve the notice sooner rather than later.  Why?

1) Rent due on residential leases for periods after those covered by the five day notice can always be made a part of a “joint action” eviction complaint by pleading for the rent between the period covered in the notice and the date of trial.

2) After the notice is served, a tenant without the funds to pay the rent is no more likely to be able to pay a larger rent amount than a smaller amount.  If the tenant does happen to pay the smaller amount, what is the harm to the landlord?  The landlord’s wallet is filled just a bit more and the all the landlord has to do is to prepare and serve a new notice.  Assuming the tenant is not too hard to serve, this is a small inconvenience.

3) Time is money.  The longer the tenant is in the property without paying rent, the more the tenant is costing the landlord.  A landlord is rarely harmed by getting a tenant served sooner rather than later.  The landlord can always put the filing of an eviction on hold if the landlord decides to give the tenant more time, but, getting the job over and done with so that the landlord can proceed when ready makes a lot of sense.

4) Actions speak louder than words.  Many landlords like to “work with” their tenants while the tenant goes through a rough patch.  Most landlords are good people and are willing to bend a little when it comes to understanding tenant difficulties or giving a tenant a bit of extra time.  This is a smart practice.  Landlording, done correctly, is personal and there is nothing wrong with giving a tenant a bit of extra time if a landlord’s gut says that is the right thing to do.  However, a landlord can be compassionate in waiting to file a case, but it still makes sense to serve the notice so that when the landlord’s instinct says that it is time to stop being nice, the landlord is ready.

Being a landlord is an art and not a science, however, getting a notice served and waiting is far better than the alternative.  Landlords needing help with eviction notices can look for more information here.

About Richard Magnone

Co-founding member of Reda | Ciprian | Magnone, LLC, attorney at law and Illinois licensed lawyer since 1996.
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