Tenant hasn't paid late rent fee

10 Replies

Good morning all,

I have a tenant who wrote a bad check and was late on the rent. She was suppose to pay this amount on the first of this month. On the first I called to check with her bc she didn't make the payment. She asked for an extension until the 15th. We'll the 15th has now came and passed and still no payment. What should I do?

She owes about $183.00

Thank you

any help or advice will be appreciated  

she is in violation of contract so the ball is in your court. Explain to her that you owe your mortgage payment shortly after her rent is due each month so when she pays late and incurs fees ; you may have to pay late and incur fees. Has she been a good tenant in the past?

If it were me ; and I felt good about the tenant I would have a conversation with her and let her know I will waive the fee this time because she has been a good tenant in the past but I would be firm letting her know if she is late in the future I will immediately impose all fees and start the eviction process. Be firm and clear with this.

This exact thing happened to me about 6 months back and the tenant was extremely grateful and has never paid late since ; in fact they have paid early since then.

As @Westin  relates, my approach would depend upon whether this is a tenant I wished to keep or wished to part with.  I can't think of many scenarios where I would move to eviction over such a small sum unless they were a problem tenant.  A discussion is certainly in order.  If the discussion goes well you have an opportunity to demonstrate how reasonable you are by reducing or waiving the fee.  (You don't state the amount of the rent but $183 seems like a fairly steep late fee.)  Of course, you have no obligation to reduce the rent and if the conversation goes poorly you can simply carry it on your books and deduct it from the security deposit when the tenant vacates the property.

She owes rent PLUS $183 of late fees from previous months?  or just the late fee?

If it's just the late fee, that is a lesson to amend your lease to apply received payment from tenants, no matter how designated, to late fees, fines, damages, court cost etc...FIRST, before using it to fulfill the rent.

So let's say rent is $1500 and late fee is $100.  Tenant sends you $1500 current month rent.  You apply $100 to fulfill the late fee, then $1400 to the rent.  Now they are short on rent by $100.  That automatically triggers a late fee of say $50 for THIS MONTH'S rent being fully paid.  This will give the tenant the incentive to pay in full since non-payment of late fees will continue to trigger more and more late fees on subsequent month's rent, and you can evict them due to short rent.  They may think they paid in full but if your lease has the clause to apply money received in this manner, then the late fee becomes short rent.

@Sam Leon , you are certainly within your rights to do this but it may cost you some good tenants.  If someone did this to me for a minor offense I would be looking for a new place immediately.  My lease is actually worded as you suggest but I have never applied it as you suggest. 

It is rare for me to file for eviction and even rarer for me to apply multiple layers of charges.  (I have many 3-5 year tenants.  They do not usually move because of disputes with me but because their life situations change.) In court, I have had judges uphold most of the fees I have in the lease but they often modify my charges when I apply multiple fees.  i.e. if I apply a tenant holdover fee and a late rent fee they will usually give me one but not the other.  Granted, I live in a very tenant friendly State but I suspect many judges would frown upon turning a large late fee into an enormous late fee.

You can also "ignore" the late fees and deduct it from th3 security deposit upon move out.

I have in my lease that all fees are taken out first than the rent. Therefore I would deduct he fees first than rent on the 1st when they pay. Than I would send them a quid pro quo/ eviction notice if it's not paid.

Originally posted by @Jeff Rabinowitz:

@Sam Leon, you are certainly within your rights to do this but it may cost you some good tenants.  If someone did this to me for a minor offense I would be looking for a new place immediately.  My lease is actually worded as you suggest but I have never applied it as you suggest. 

It is rare for me to file for eviction and even rarer for me to apply multiple layers of charges.  (I have many 3-5 year tenants.  They do not usually move because of disputes with me but because their life situations change.) In court, I have had judges uphold most of the fees I have in the lease but they often modify my charges when I apply multiple fees.  i.e. if I apply a tenant holdover fee and a late rent fee they will usually give me one but not the other.  Granted, I live in a very tenant friendly State but I suspect many judges would frown upon turning a large late fee into an enormous late fee.

 I think many of us apply rules on a case by case basis.

My lease is worded very strict, and I explain that in person to the tenant prior to them signing the lease that rules are rules and I take no pleasure in posting a notice of evict so best to avoid putting themselves in that situation.

When a new tenant is late I will let it go and send a reminder.  A second time, I will apply a late fee, and if they do not pay the late fee, I will keep sending them invoices each month for the outstanding rent.  Will I go ahead and evict?  That depends.  There comes a point I believe you no longer wish to keep the tenant.

First, I don't believe someone who can afford say $1800, $2500 a month of rent is going to structure to pay $100 of late fee.  It's not a money issue but more of a  **** this rule attitude.  I do not like to send emails, texts, letters chasing and reminding people for rent, and certainly do not appreciate their attempt to test me to see if I would enforce my lease or not.

Last year one of my tenant broke a window. Didn't tell me but I found out when changing out an AC filter.  Told me her daughter broke it.  I told him he can fix it if it's cheaper for him (which is a courtesy to him), after several months no action, I had to hire someone to go fix it - my time, my money, and charged him the cost I paid which was $150.  He refused to pay, said it shouldn't have been more than $50 to replace a piece of glass.  That was 4 months prior to his lease being up.  I debated to get rid of him for $150, he was given a chance to fix it himself, he didn't, I had to fix it, and sent him the invoice I paid.  Up till that point he had two late rent occurrences which I ignored, which later I regret, because I believe my not enforcing the late payment lead indirectly to his tardiness to fix the window and refusal to pay for the repair.  I didn't evict him because it was not too far from his lease being up.  As predicted, the next few months he were late almost every month.  Sometimes a few days, one time I took an oversea trip to London and he was 18 days past due before I sent him a reminder.  I believe if I had enforced the late fees earlier it would not have escalated.

I just didn't ask him to renew, when it's 30 days from lease expiration I put a FOR RENT sign in the yard.  He called immediately and asked to renew.  I said no, it's not working out, he has been late, he didn't pay for the window repair, I don't have time to deal with this.  He then asked for a conversion to month to month, I asked him how long would it take him to find a new place, he said 4 months.  I said OK, I will do a renewal with him for 4 months, on the following conditions.  First, he would pay all late fees and damages; Second, the rent would be raised 20%; Third, the security deposit needs to be raised to the same as new rent;  Forth, I don't have time to chase after him for late rent, so I want all four rent checks signed and paid up front at lease signing, dated for the first of each month.  He agreed and we did a renewal, and end up parting ways 4 months later without any hassle.

My thoughts...your actions send messages about what is acceptable or not acceptable. If you fail to follow through with the agreed upon remedy/consequence of non-payment, you send the message to the tenant that they can get away with it in the future, and are setting yourself up for more headaches in the future. Be a stickler, it's for your own good. And more than likely, for the tenant's good as well. 

Originally posted by @Sam Leon :
Originally posted by @Jeff Rabinowitz:

@Sam Leon, you are certainly within your rights to do this but it may cost you some good tenants.  If someone did this to me for a minor offense I would be looking for a new place immediately.  My lease is actually worded as you suggest but I have never applied it as you suggest. 

It is rare for me to file for eviction and even rarer for me to apply multiple layers of charges.  (I have many 3-5 year tenants.  They do not usually move because of disputes with me but because their life situations change.) In court, I have had judges uphold most of the fees I have in the lease but they often modify my charges when I apply multiple fees.  i.e. if I apply a tenant holdover fee and a late rent fee they will usually give me one but not the other.  Granted, I live in a very tenant friendly State but I suspect many judges would frown upon turning a large late fee into an enormous late fee.

 I think many of us apply rules on a case by case basis.

My lease is worded very strict, and I explain that in person to the tenant prior to them signing the lease that rules are rules and I take no pleasure in posting a notice of evict so best to avoid putting themselves in that situation.

When a new tenant is late I will let it go and send a reminder.  A second time, I will apply a late fee, and if they do not pay the late fee, I will keep sending them invoices each month for the outstanding rent.  Will I go ahead and evict?  That depends.  There comes a point I believe you no longer wish to keep the tenant.

First, I don't believe someone who can afford say $1800, $2500 a month of rent is going to structure to pay $100 of late fee.  It's not a money issue but more of a  **** this rule attitude.  I do not like to send emails, texts, letters chasing and reminding people for rent, and certainly do not appreciate their attempt to test me to see if I would enforce my lease or not.

Last year one of my tenant broke a window. Didn't tell me but I found out when changing out an AC filter.  Told me her daughter broke it.  I told him he can fix it if it's cheaper for him (which is a courtesy to him), after several months no action, I had to hire someone to go fix it - my time, my money, and charged him the cost I paid which was $150.  He refused to pay, said it shouldn't have been more than $50 to replace a piece of glass.  That was 4 months prior to his lease being up.  I debated to get rid of him for $150, he was given a chance to fix it himself, he didn't, I had to fix it, and sent him the invoice I paid.  Up till that point he had two late rent occurrences which I ignored, which later I regret, because I believe my not enforcing the late payment lead indirectly to his tardiness to fix the window and refusal to pay for the repair.  I didn't evict him because it was not too far from his lease being up.  As predicted, the next few months he were late almost every month.  Sometimes a few days, one time I took an oversea trip to London and he was 18 days past due before I sent him a reminder.  I believe if I had enforced the late fees earlier it would not have escalated.

I just didn't ask him to renew, when it's 30 days from lease expiration I put a FOR RENT sign in the yard.  He called immediately and asked to renew.  I said no, it's not working out, he has been late, he didn't pay for the window repair, I don't have time to deal with this.  He then asked for a conversion to month to month, I asked him how long would it take him to find a new place, he said 4 months.  I said OK, I will do a renewal with him for 4 months, on the following conditions.  First, he would pay all late fees and damages; Second, the rent would be raised 20%; Third, the security deposit needs to be raised to the same as new rent;  Forth, I don't have time to chase after him for late rent, so I want all four rent checks signed and paid up front at lease signing, dated for the first of each month.  He agreed and we did a renewal, and end up parting ways 4 months later without any hassle.

 I am not so sure that I would have agreed to give him the option for a month to month after his lease was up but your conditions have opened up my mind for future negotiations.  Living in Michigan, a large part of the agreement for me would be the timing of the year.  The srping and summer are much easier for better selection of tenants then during the winter.  Families would rather move during this time.  But thank you for broadening my horizons.

Patricia

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