I would like your input on dealing with late rent payments and pet fees/deposit.
Here is our county law about late rent payment:
"While the Montgomery County Code prohibits the landlord from charging a late fee until after the tenth of the month, this is not a grace period. If you pay after the first, your rent is late. You can be sued for Failure to Pay Rent before the 10th of the month. Not paying your rent on time constitutes a breach of lease. Untimely rent payments can be the basis for not renewing your lease and can make it difficult to obtain housing in the future;"
So landlord are not allowed to charge a late fee for late rent before the 10th of the month, but can sue tenant before that. In this situation, what is the best way to approach late rent? My biggest fear is if tenants take advantage of this law and just get used to paying rent late, as long as it is before the 10th. Of course you can sue them, but who wants to sue just because your tenant is several days late for rent?
Here is our county law about pet fees/deposit:
"Non-Refundable Fees -- Non-refundable fees such as reservation or holding fees, move-in, redecorating or cleaning fees, pet fees/deposits etc., may not be charged or imposed by a landlord. Note: In certain condominium communities, these fees are allowed in the by-laws."
So if my condo associate allow pet fees/deposit, does that mean it is allowed even the county says it may not be charged? Does the same go with holding fees? Can I charge it if my condo association allows it?
I would really love to have your input and and advice. Really appreciate it!
Regarding the late rent fees, it sounds pretty straight forward. I do something similar with my leases, except it's the 5th of the month, and not the 10th. So, for instance, in my lease it states that the rent is due on the first, and is considered late if I don't receive it by the 5th. After the 5th, I charge a $5 per day late fee. Seems like you will just have to adjust the day the fees start to the 10th.
You should also be following due process regarding non-payment of rent. The way I do it is if I don't have the rent by the 5th, I send out a 5 Day Notice. That's a WI state required notice, it essentially says they need to pay rent or move out in 5 days. If the notice expires and they've done neither, than I can go file eviction. Regardless of whether my late rent fees started on the 5th or the 10th, I'd still be following this due process. That county code kind of sucks, since it limits the amount you can collect when people are late, but whatever the due process is in your county you should be following regardless of the late rent fee schedule.
Regarding pet fees, it seems like you're out of luck. That said, there must be ways to work around it. For instance, when you show the apartment to potential renters with pets, you should have higher rents. It looks like there's no code regarding monthly pet fees that are included in the rent. It also specifies 'Non-refundable'. So don't call the up front fee 'Non-refundable', call it an 'Additional Security Deposit Requirement' for people with pets. Keep it with the rest of the security deposits, and when they move out, if the pets have caused damage that wouldn't have otherwise happened, then you have the additional security deposit to cover it.
The way you deal with late payments is to take on the responsibility of training tenants.
If a tenant has no reason to pay rent on time those that don't care will not pay on time. They are lazy and inconsiderate tenants that either need to change their ways or you replace them. If you do not wish to train them then live with them the way they are and accept that they are calling the shots.
If on the other hand you wish to control the situation you must take direct action. A pay or quit notice is always to be issued on the day following when rent is due. That is the day rent is late. If you do not issue the notice till the late fee applies then that becomes the day rent is due whether it be the 5th or 10th. You do not wait till the end of the grace period you issue the notice immediately upon rent becoming late.
After the first or second notice, your choice, you inform them that if they are ever late again you will be either evicting or non renewing their lease. This is where the advantage of M2M leases is most advantageous.
As for pet fees simply raise the rent by $50/month for any applicant wishing to have pets. Fees are unnecessary additional work and will rarely cover damage if any. Increased rent discourages tenants having pets.
Sounds like you can't charge pet fees, but what about an increased deposit at least?
Agree with the other advice - you need to wait to the 10th to collect late fees, but you can still serve notices and threaten/follow-through with non-renewal based on payment history.