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Dear Patty - Excuses, Excuses

Friday, February 01, 2013  
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Dear Patty,

When I collect rent, the tenants tell me stories or make up excuses for not paying the rent such as, "I just lost my job last week, but I am sure I will have another job within two weeks, and I’ll catch my rent up then” or "Since the baby was born, my wife has been unable to work. She will be going back to work in four weeks, and we will catch up on the rent then.” What do I do to collect the rents on time?

--John Dilemma

Dear John Dilemma,

In the course of collecting rents, you will doubtless hear any number of stories. Some of these stories are valid reasons and seem like reasonable excuses for not paying the rent. But while they may indeed be true stories, none of them are a good excuse for not paying the rent.

No business can realistically afford to give its products away at no charge. Housing is no different from any necessary business. It is the individual’s obligation to allocate the money to pay for the product, or the individual will not have the product. This attitude may sound cold-hearted but your loyalty and obligation as the property manager is to the owner of the property, not to a few tenants who are unable or unwilling to pay the rent.

Managing a rental property is not a charity operation; it is a business. You must know when to cut your losses. If you‘re going to survive as a property manager and be in the business for the long term, you need to remember it only takes one bad tenant to cause enough aggravation to push you out of rentals.

You will need to take a firm stand with non-paying tenants, and you may find that some tenants can be very creative in locating rent money once they realize that they will be held to the terms of the lease. If not, follow the legal guidelines as outlined in the Landlord/Tenant Act and evict the tenant as soon as legally possible. If you need assistance, seek the advice of legal counsel.


"Patty the Property Manager” appears courtesy of the ORRA Property Management Subcommittee. Readers are invited to submit property management related questions to Patty by sending an e-mail to

The ORRA Property Management Subcommittee provides this property-management advice column as a service to ORRA members. The column is intended to provide a general understanding, not as a substitute for individual legal consultation. The column should not be relied upon in specific situations without consulting a real estate attorney.

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