Now, more than ever, I'm getting e-mails from folks who say they've never been late on their rent before.
But suddenly, a family crisis. A job loss. The cash flow trickles. The first of the month comes, and they discover for the first time, they can't pay the rent -- and their landlords are breathing down their necks.
"Carol" of Germantown, TN, says that describes her daughter's situation:
"She recently lost her job of 2 years and is awaiting unemployment benefits. The rental agent...has told her that she is going to evict her this Friday the 10th unless she comes up with the money."
Not without a written notice, she's not.
The Tennessee Uniform Landlord/Tenant Act requires landlords to issue a 30-day notice in writing for an eviction, known officially as a "notice of non-payment."
Here's the thing. If the renter makes no effort to make some sort of payment, fix damages, etc. within 14 days of the written notice, then the landlord can terminate the rental agreement after 14 days.
But the landlord will still have to sue the tenant. The landlord will still have to serve the tenant with eviction papers. A judge will still have to rule on the eviction AND...if the judge rules in favor of the eviction, the tenant will still have an extra ten days from that ruling before the court issues an order of possession.
Now these aren't excuses for a tenant to abuse the system and stay without paying rent. That will destroy your credit, not to mention awash you in legal bills.
My advice to Carol's daughter and other tenants in trouble is work something out with your landlord. If you receive the written notice, calmly and professionally try to work out a payment plan within those first 14 days. Make an effort to make peace with your landlord -- even offer to put the payment plan in writing.
But know that if that doesn't work, the landlord still has to issue that written 30-day notice.