The number one lesson I have learned from owning rentals is, as the OP says, conditioning the tenant. I give a three-day grace period because I know a lot of people get paid or receive government assistance on the first of the month. But if they don't have it in by that third day I have my attorney send them a 7-day notice automatically. Once they realize you take payment seriously, they will take you seriously. Now, if tenants have a problem like they lost their job or are in the hospital or whatever, they call me ahead of time to explain why they might be late instead of me trying to track them down. It alleviates a lot of stress from wondering if you are going to get paid or not.