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Old 09-13-2008, 10:54 AM
Location: South Carolina
3 posts, read 49,049 times
Reputation: 20


I recently set up automatic bill-pay with my bank to ensure my landlord received payment on time. Unfortunately, I didn't pay close enough attention to the "delivery date" and my rent payment was late. My landlord charged me 10% (as stipulated in our agreement), however, I feel this is excessive and possibly illegal. Unfortunately I could't find any information in the South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act governig late fees. Though strangely enough I did find that the maximum late fee allowed for a rental-purchase was $5 a day. Does anyone know the law in this matter? BTW, I'm a landlord myself in Georgia and I can't charge more than $25.
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Old 09-13-2008, 04:43 PM
Location: Seaford, Delaware
3,445 posts, read 15,172,237 times
Reputation: 2497
I don;t know ther laws in SC. I usually make sure late fees are at the max rate in the lease. I collect them too. As a LL,that is one thing I will not waiver about. Rent late...late fee. that said, I would have checked when you signed the lease. After the fact is kinda late. that being said. Check with a real estate attorney. There should be a severability clause in your lease. if the late fee is illegal, that clause is illegal. Not the whole lease, just that part.
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Old 09-13-2008, 06:46 PM
Location: Florida
7,269 posts, read 8,608,986 times
Reputation: 5991
Try calling the Clerk at the court house in your county on Monday. They have the scoop.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:10 AM
Location: Downtown Austin
5,798 posts, read 13,715,638 times
Reputation: 4577
Unfortunately, I didn't pay close enough attention...my rent payment was late. My landlord charged me 10% (as stipulated in our agreement)...I feel this is excessive and possibly illegal.
You agreed to it. End of discussion. Pay your late fee and move on with life.

I've been collecting late fees from tenants for almost 20 years now, and things never change. I have a long "late fee" speech that I give at the lease signing, which, in a nutshell, says, we don't waive late fees for anyone for any reasons, ever, period, and don't even ask me to waive it if you slip up and pay late. The answer will be "no", for a host of reasons.

Nevertheless, there are always tenants who want to rewrite the lease terms, or claim that it's not fair, and have a debate. You'll spend more emotional energy and time fighting it than it will cost simply paying it and moving on.

As to whether 10% is illegal (your only defense if that were to be the case), check with your local rental association or tenant advocacy group. Every state has different laws and most are vague, saying only that late fees must be "reasonable".

If no hard limit is written into law in your state, you'd have to take the landlord to court and find a judge or jury to agree that the late fee is unconsionable, which is a subjective question. I doubt anyone would find 10% unconsionable, as the law defines the word.

All that said, I screwed up my taxes for 2007 and had to pay some heavy late fees. I know the emotions and anger I felt were stong and real. I wrote an angry letter to the IRS (along with my check), so I think we all have a visceral reaction to being hit with penalty fees of any amount (remember when Blockbuster had late fees and you'd have to stand in line behind some idiot arguing with the cleark over a $3 late fee?).

But in the end, you either accept responsibility for your mistakes and pay the cost, or you try to make others responsible for your mistakes.


Last edited by austin-steve; 09-14-2008 at 11:11 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:24 PM
Location: South Carolina
3 posts, read 49,049 times
Reputation: 20
Well, thanks to all of you who responded. It seems that I may hve hit a nerve or two as well. BTW, it wasn't a question about how I could get around paying. just wanted to ensure I was being trated fairly. I've already paid the fee, but I'll take JEEPGIRL118's advice and call the clerk tomorrow. Thanks!
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:36 PM
Location: Maryland
1,667 posts, read 7,560,474 times
Reputation: 1566
Originally Posted by JeepGirl118 View Post
Try calling the Clerk at the court house in your county on Monday. They have the scoop.
In Maryland, late fee can only be 5% per month. What I do is increase rent annually, discounted to original amount for prompt payment. If the rent is $350, the late fee can be $17.50, but if the rent has increased the maximum 12% annually for 5 years, the non-discounted payment will be over $550, plus a $65 late fee. Most people try to pay the $350 on time. Anyway, you do need to check with the courthouse for fee limits.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:25 PM
1 posts, read 23,099 times
Reputation: 15
My landlord took me to court for non-payment but he was charging for a higher rent than what I was paying a month I got to court and explain this to the lawyer and he said the case was dismissed.Do anybody know why
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:47 PM
22,106 posts, read 32,674,657 times
Reputation: 11017
I have in my lease that a $ 100.- late fee will be charged if not paid after 3 days of being due....No one ever paid the 3rd day but I had 2 bounced checks and I could have charged the $ 100.- but I didn't I charged $ 15.- which the bank charged me as administration fees for the return of my tenants bounced checks...The last month they didn't pay...they vanished, but they had a non refundable sec. deposit since that is normal in a lease purchase....

I looked a my State laws (landlords-tenants) and it doesn't say anything about the interest fee or late fee...Basically I think that if you put it in writing and both parties have signed and it isn't unreasonable it should be fine...

Isn't paying on time not reasonable....?
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:06 PM
Location: North America
3 posts, read 30,395 times
Reputation: 27
But in the end, you either accept responsibility for your mistakes and pay the cost, or you try to make others responsible for your mistakes.
Now here is a perfect reason why I love to see people challenge landlords on USURY. Attitudes like this are why predatory landlords get away with USURY more often than not. Landlord associations are groups of these people who sit around dippin doughnuts and pettin poodles while they think up new ways to hang a tenant who might have missed a payment because something "HUMAN" got in the way of business. God help you if you get sick, have a death in the family, or change jobs. Oh, and DON'T HAVE A KID or we'll RAISE YOUR RENT...
These BIONIC BONEHEADS usually do something else that is illegal in nearly every state in the union and get away with it. They perpetually charge late fees for late fees. Say your rent is past due and you have a $20 late fee...no biggy, but at the moment you only have the rent, so you pay the rent to stop the late fee... OOops not by the six million dollar man's standard by God, you'll still pay late fees on the late fee. The following month, you get hit with a whole months late fees that in no way reflect a % or daily dollar amount tied to rent, but the amount of a late fee which is growing. Refusal to pay is asking for an eviction case and meanwhile, the late fees are accumulating like a snowballed credit account.
The litigation is simple. Late fees for late fees is not reflecting any damages of late rent. These become absolutely punitive on the part of a landlord, but the acceptance of rent negates that. You cannot punish a tenant after accepting rent for that month. you are still entitled to the late fee which stops the moment you accept the rent. (This is why the law regarding acceptance of the rent.) You are NOT entitled to late fees for late fees... (Guess you'll have to make your own credit card payments eh boss?)
Policy will tell alot about the landlord. Most decent landlords are willing to work with people because people are their biggest commodity. Property is an asset and a liability. Why cant they get that through their thick skulls? But watch out for the USURY clauses in your contract. You can beat those every time, but, the fact still remains, the headache can be avoided if you look at three simple things as a "human" tenant (as opposed to a business or company)
1. Is the % of the late fee, maxed out for the state law, or is it simply representative of something you can save if you pay on time?
2. Is the landlord expecting more control in the contract than responsibility for the upkeep? Was a pre occupancy inspection done? Was the Deposit maxed out to reflect an entire months rent or just the cost of a water heater?
3. and are you restricted to the max on visitors, vehicles, noise, or any other nit pickin BS complaint that might be another way to get you out and keep your deposit. This is BIG PRACTICE now days... Predatory slum lords get you in, get your money and get you out fast so they can double slam the next guy. They make twice the rent, do half the repairs and get away with it because folks don't know this is a real problem, especially in bigger cities where tenants are on a waiting list. (Why do you think there is a waiting list? duhhh)

-A Contractor (A bad landlords worst nightmare)

Last edited by Contractor Duggy; 03-18-2009 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:16 PM
Location: El Paso, TX
3,249 posts, read 3,392,098 times
Reputation: 2484
In my opinion Steve made a good point. Even if a landlord is a greedy jerk, the bottom line it boils down to being punctual on your promise and word. To avoid this problems we should simply be organized, punctual, responsible, and there would not be any problems.

To me if I do not pay to the landlord on time I am being rude and inconsiderate with him/her. It is his money he expect to have an even possible have made plans to use thinking I will give him his money on time.

I have no consideration for people that complain because Blockbusters charges late fee charges or any other organization does the same. They count on that money a customer promised to give them.

If I did not read a contract closely enough, did not scheduled payments to be on time, etc. and I end up late, I is my fault. That is what you call personnal responsibility.

When you are wrong, you are wrong. I ask people to not try to make the other guy as the bad guy. He or she is simply enforcing his side of the deal. I do not agree with laws often designed to protect the customer at the lose and the expense of the business man or woman. Both sides should be treated equally when it comes to breaking a deal.

I actually think businesses and landlords do give breaks for the sake of good business. Try to get a break when you get a speeding ticket, not pay your taxes on time, or not pay a parking ticket.

You have a great day.
El Amigo
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