This is going to be a quick, snappy post! ‘Less is more’ right now (but that’s clearly 100% untrue when I publish one of my long-arse bullshit posts!).
How long is 2 months in arrears? Seems like a stupid question because the answer is in the question, right? Well, kinda’
I’ve realised there is some obvious confusion over the matter because over a relatively short period of time, I’ve seen multiple people ask how to calculate arrears in some shape of form, over in the Landlord Forum.
Most landlords know that they’re allowed to serve a section 8 to a tenant if their tenant is two months in arrears. The “two months” is usually calculated in one of two ways, when there is actually only one correct way. Many folks seem to do it the wrong way, and the consequence of that is expensive and unnecessarily frustrating. Fortunately, the wrong way of calculating the calendar schedule of arrears doesn’t make the notice invalid, only delayed.
The confusion occurs when people misunderstand what constitutes as “one month in arrears” The wrong method is to assume that a tenant is one month in arrears when they’re 29-31 days (depending on month) late on paying rent. So in theory, based on that formula, if a tenant hasn’t paid rent in two calendar months and one day, they could owe three months rent, which actually makes them “three months” in arrears. Go figure.
For example, if rent is due on the 1st of January, you assume that a tenant is only 1 month in arrears if they haven’t paid January’s rent by the 1st of February, and two months in arrears if they haven’t paid by the 1st of March. In that scenario, only two months and one day has passed, but three months rent is now actually owed. Something doesn’t add up, does it?
The correct way to calculate rent arrears
Rent is typically paid one month in advance, so if the tenant doesn’t pay on the date the rent is due, they are in arrears. For example, if the rent is due on the first day of the month, then on the second day of the month the tenant will be in rent arrears by one month (if they haven’t made payment). So if the tenant hasn’t paid rent in one month and one day, they are two months in arrears.
“2 months in arrears” means exactly that- tenants owe 2 months worth of rent, it doesn’t mean “2 months has passed since they paid rent”
So if you thought the wrong way was the right way, perhaps landlord law got slightly more tolerable.