Christmas should be a fun time, and it is no fun suffering the stress and worry that comes with mounting arrears over the Christmas period.
For tenants, there can be serious pressure to buy gifts and entertain friends and family over the holiday season. Given these pressures, it is an unfortunate reality that some households choose not to pay their rent so they can prioritise other spending. Research from Shelter UK shows that one in 12 tenants are prepared to forgo their rent payments over Christmas, so there is a significant risk that your arrears figures could grow.
Everyone takes a different approach to arrears; some take a harder 'no tolerance' line, some take proactive steps to help ensure their tenants get their rent paid to avoid eviction. Either way, at the end of the day, if we can avoid eviction, it is better for all parties involved. While the majority of your portfolio may be good rent payers, this is the time that some of them will slip, and this is also a time that a repeat offender is more than likely to re-offend.
Some strategies to combat arrears at this time to minimise our stress include:
- Sending the standard letters to remind tenants to pay rent on time
- Running a marketing campaign in the build-up to Christmas that aims to deter tenants from falling behind on payments. To see some examples of some unique Christmas arrears marketing campaigns, click here.
- Offer a financial support and advice service through assistance with budgeting plans. Some companies provide a flyer with budgeting advice and some will go so far as offering a financial planning helpline to call.
- Implement rewards/incentives to ensure all payments are on time:
- Running a competition for all who keep their rent up to date
- Offering movie tickets for all who are two weeks in advance over the period
- Providing special personal warnings to repeat offenders, almost to let them know that you’re going to be watching their arrears closely over the period to make sure they stay on time.
- Some agencies even offer the tenants an option to pay extra throughout the year to help them get a bit ahead for these tighter times.
- Reminding tenants of the importance of maintaining positive ledger; instead of threatening termination, let them know you want to help them maintain a positive rental ledger to assist with future rentals (and even mortgage repayments as these days some lenders are requesting this information).
- Utilise your blog, newsletters and social media to educate and share the message.
- Printing the arrears list in advance to predict problem offenders, issuing them reminders or getting them to come in for a meeting.
- Setting up some automated reminders to go out to tenants a few days before their rent is due, perhaps utilising something like 'delay send' through Outlook.
There are many strategies, be sure to choose what works for your agency and your brand. Don't forget to score some brownie points with the owners and communicate what you're doing to ensure they don't have missing payments over Christmas! What other ideas do you have for keeping your arrears low at Christmas time? Please share them below!
For our Real+ members, be sure to check out our Christmas Letter template on your portal and stay tuned for more Christmas Tips in your Daily Training Tips.