What happens when unpaid rent goes to collections?

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When unpaid rent goes to collections, it can have significant consequences for both tenants and landlords. Rent collections occur when a tenant fails to pay their rent on time, and the landlord decides to seek assistance from a collections agency to recover the outstanding amount. This article will explore what happens when unpaid rent goes to collections and the potential implications for both parties involved.

The Collections Process

Initiating Collections: When a tenant fails to pay their rent, landlords typically follow a specific process before involving a collections agency. This may include sending reminders, issuing late payment notices, and attempting to negotiate a resolution directly with the tenant. If these efforts fail, the landlord may decide to engage a collections agency to recover the unpaid rent.

Debt Collection Agency Involvement: Once a landlord decides to involve a collections agency, they transfer the unpaid rent account to the agency. The collections agency then takes over the responsibility of pursuing the debt on behalf of the landlord. They will contact the tenant to inform them of the outstanding balance and attempt to collect the payment.

Collection Methods: Collections agencies employ various methods to recover unpaid rent. These may include sending letters, making phone calls, or even visiting the tenant’s residence. The agency may also report the delinquent account to credit bureaus, which can negatively impact the tenant’s credit score.

Implications for Tenants

Credit Score Impact: When unpaid rent goes to collections, it can have a detrimental effect on a tenant’s credit score. The collections agency’s report to credit bureaus can result in a significant decrease in the tenant’s creditworthiness, making it more challenging to secure future loans, credit cards, or even rental agreements.

Legal Action: In some cases, if the tenant continues to refuse payment or fails to cooperate with the collections agency, the landlord may decide to pursue legal action. This can lead to further complications for the tenant, including potential court judgments and additional fees.

Difficulty Renting in the Future: Having unpaid rent go to collections can make it difficult for tenants to secure future rental agreements. Landlords often conduct background checks, which may include credit history evaluations. A negative rental history can raise concerns for prospective landlords, making it harder for the tenant to find suitable housing.

Implications for Landlords

Recovering Unpaid Rent: The primary goal for landlords when unpaid rent goes to collections is to recover the outstanding amount. By involving a collections agency, landlords increase their chances of receiving payment, as these agencies have experience and resources dedicated to debt recovery.

Time and Effort: Pursuing unpaid rent through collections can be time-consuming and require significant effort on the part of the landlord. They must provide necessary documentation and work closely with the collections agency to ensure a smooth process. This diverts their attention from other aspects of property management.

Financial Loss: While involving a collections agency increases the chances of recovering unpaid rent, there is no guarantee of full recovery. The collections agency may charge fees or take a percentage of the collected amount, reducing the overall sum received by the landlord.


When unpaid rent goes to collections, it can have far-reaching implications for both tenants and landlords. Tenants may face a negative impact on their credit score, potential legal action, and difficulties in securing future rental agreements. Landlords, on the other hand, may experience the burden of time and effort required for debt recovery, potential financial loss, and diversion from other property management responsibilities. It is crucial for both parties to communicate effectively and seek resolution before resorting to collections.


– RentPrep.com
– Nolo.com
– TheBalance.com
– TransUnion.com