What Should I Do if My Tenant Stops Paying Rent?

Clients frequently ask what they should do if their tenant stops paying rent. The landlord/tenant code and the court are both very specific on the procedure to follow for this. You are required to give the tenant a five day letter. That’s a letter that is designed to tell the tenant that they are late on rent, to tell them exactly what is past due, and what’s going to happen if they do not pay within five days. Important item to note about this letter is you have to be very detailed in what is due. If they owe three months rent, you need to indicate each month of rent that is due and how much; if there are late fees put the late fees in there; if there are utilities, put the utilities in there. If you fail to do so, you may not be able to recover them in court.

It is also important to note that if the tenant does not pay, you will seek possession of the unit. That tells the court that you are looking to terminate the lease and attempt to get the tenant out of the house. Failure to include this language could also be defective in your filing with the court. Finally, giving a notice to the tenant is very important also. The code requires that you do it by certificate of mailing, certified mailing, or hand delivery. Hand delivery is always best. If you can’t hand deliver it, we suggest that you do a certificate of mailing. If you don’t know what a certificate of mailing is, take the letter to your post office and talk to them about that issue. Any other questions, please contact your landlord/tenant attorney.

The law firm of Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C., is composed of experienced landlord/tenant attorneys throughout the state of Delaware. Please contact the office for a free initial consultation and get any questions answered.