By, Robyn Latman, Esq.
3 Good Reasons To Make A Payment Plan In Landlord Tenant Court
It happens all the time. In fact, it happens in most of the eviction cases that are filed in New Jersey.
You filed an eviction case for non-payment of rent. The case would be dismissed upon full payment of the rent, and your tenant could go home with peace of mind, knowing that he will not be evicted. But, your tenant does not bring to court the full amount of rent then due. Often, the tenant does not bring any of the rent money to court on the trial date.
Your tenant wants to make a payment plan for the past due rent.
So, what is it that happens in many of these cases? The Landlord and Tenant make a payment plan and file that in court. If you are wondering why so many Landlords agree to payment plans rather than choosing to evict their tenants right away, here are three good reasons to make a payment plan in court with your tenant.
Good Reason Number One – A Good Tenant Fell On Hard Times.
We know that the economy is tough and has been for years. It can happen to tenants who never had money issues before. Even when a tenant has not made a change in his job or his income, he may still fall on hard times. A relative got sick, a car broke down, a sibling needed help, a debt came due, or unexpected expenses came up at the wrong time.
I am not suggesting that other expenses are more important than rent. Of course not. I’m a landlords’ attorney, after all. But, I do recognize that while people don’t always make the right decision, they usually make the decision that seems best for them in the moment. This may mean paying off a different bill or loaning money to a friend.
If a reliable tenant who has paid his rent on time for years suddenly can’t come up with the rent and asks for a payment plan to catch up, Good Reason Number One says yes. Go ahead and make that plan with him. Everyone deserves a second chance.
Good Reason Number Two – Some Money Now Is Better Than No Money.
You bought the property as an investment, and you really need the rents in order to let you keep up with the mortgage and taxes. Having an empty unit, with no money coming in, would cause you more hardship than accepting the rent in installments.
If the rent from your tenants pays your bills, it is often better to accept an installment plan than it is to evict the tenant and receive no money. You may put the tenant on a short plan so that he can catch up on the back rent within a reasonable timeframe.
Everybody wins in this case. You get the money that you need, and the tenant keeps his home. You have both learned a lesson about finances, and if this happens again, you may let the tenant know that he will get evicted at that time.
You are not creating a habit that lets the tenant know that he can pay whenever he pleases. You are creating the exception that lets the tenant know that you are human. You have bills to pay, same as him.
Good Reason Number Three – You Really Can Get It All.
In Landlord Tenant Court in New Jersey, you don’t get it all. You have to choose which you want more – the money or the apartment. If you prefer that the tenant vacate your property and find another place to live, you should not also expect that he will pay you what he owes before moving.
More often than not, the tenant will use whatever money he has available to him, at that time, to move. It takes both time and money to locate a new home in our crowded state. If you want the tenant to leave so that you may find a new tenant for your apartment, you may have to accept that you won’t recover those rents.
Landlord Tenant court is about possession of the rental unit. It is not about money.
However, if you make a payment plan with your tenant, and he fails to make any of the payments, you may still pursue the eviction. In this event, you do get both. You are permitted to keep any payments that have been made, and you may also request a Warrant of Removal and have the Court Officer lock the door.
You are protected from losing everything, and you may just end up getting everything.
As you have read above, there are good reasons why Landlords and Tenants enter into Settlement Agreements in court. These settlement forms are provided by the court, and they enter judgment on the trial date. However, the Landlord agrees not to proceed with the eviction as long as the tenant abides by the agreement.
As a Landlord in New Jersey, you may have other reasons for why you make payment plans.
Please share them with us by writing a comment below.
Information gathered from this blog post is intended to be educational in nature only and does not replace the advice of an attorney about your specific matter. If you are a landlord of either residential or commercial space, and you are wondering whether you can enforce your lease agreement, collect unpaid rents or remove a tenant who is breaching its lease agreement or the law in some way, please contact this office for additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.