Landlords and tenants set forth agreed-upon terms when signing a lease or rental agreement. In order to protect the landlord and assure that the tenant pays their rent on time, the landlord will typically include a late fee in the lease or rental agreement. A late fee must be explicitly stated in the agreement in order for it to be legally forced upon the tenant.
The timeframes to charge late fees vary but are typically when rent is three (3) or more days late and then increased late fees are applied when rent is 10 or more days late. Reasonable late fees are typically no more than 5% of the total rent when rent is three or more days late and may be increased to, but should not exceed, 10% of the rent when rent is 10 or more days late.
Most states do not specifically address late fees written in law. For those states that do not have specific laws regarding late fees, it is best to follow the aforementioned guidelines. For the most detailed and accurate explanations of your state’s late fee laws, consult your state’s specific laws or contact an attorney.
There isn’t a word of legislation in Alabama that discusses late fee laws, which means that is completely legal for landlords to charge tenants these fees. It’s recommended that the landlord keeps the fees relative to expenses a late rent payment causes so that if it ever faced a judge, they wouldn’t deem it unreasonable. Also, always put it in the lease.
In Alaska, there is very little said in the legislature about late fees. The only actual law is a limit based on the state usury law, which is a regulation that oversees the interest that is attached to a loan. This means that landlords can’t charge “more than five (5) percentage points above the Federal Reserve discount rate or ten and a half (10.5%) percent where the Fed rate is not published.” Also, no automatic late fees can be placed on an overdraft, or NFS situations are legally backed. A tenant can fight that and will likely win.
It’s recommended by the State of Alaska’s Department of Law that you do a flat fee based on the information above and that it is clearly stated in the lease agreement.
In Arizona, judges are not fans of unreasonable fees, which means that the fee needs to be directly related to expenses accrued due to a late rent payment. Be sure to add details about when and what will be charged when the rent is late. Also, there must be a notice given to the tenant and a chance to pay both the late fees and rent.
In addition to the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, there is the Arizona Mobile Home Landlord & Tenant Act. Be sure to be versed in both.
Arkansas is another state that has basically no legal guidance regarding late fees. Ultimately, it comes right down to the lease. If not noted there, the landlord has basically no way to enforce it or get the court to agree. It’s recommended that the late fees are kept in relation to expenses, like mortgage late fees.
It could be argued that California has confusing late fee laws. Very specific language needs to be included in the lease agreement for them to be legally enforceable. There is one law that attempted to outlaw late fees, but it used the term “liquidated damages”, which creates a loophole.
In 2004, the appellate court connected the terms and make them illegal unless two conditions were met.
To avoid confusion, be very careful to include all terms of late fees in the lease agreement. These terms include
Also, different countries and cities across California could have different rules on late fees and how they can be charged, so be sure to check those.
The state of Colorado has passed SB 173, which covers new landlord-tenant regulations. First, the law places a timeframe on late fees of seven (7) days. As for a limit, the late fee cannot exceed $50 or 5% of the rent payment due, and just like every other state, it has to be in the lease agreement. Unlike other states, they have added a stipulation that makes it illegal to evict or start the eviction process because the late fee was not paid.
While the state of Connecticut doesn’t place a limit on late fees, they do make it clear that it needs to “bear a reasonable relationship to the actual damages the landlord sustains,” and the court will absolutely reject the late fee if it is deemed unreasonable. The timeframe for a late fee is nine (9) days after the rent was due, which means that the landlord cannot incentivize the tenant to pay earlier than 10 days after the due date.
If the rent is weekly, there is a legal grace period of five (5) days. Also, make sure it is included in the lease agreement to be at all enforceable.
In Delaware, they have some interesting laws on late fees. They cannot be more than 5% of the rent and cannot be imposed until after the rent is five (5) days. Regarding the interesting piece, the landlord must maintain an office in the county where the rental unit is located here, tenants can pay rent in order to charge a late fee. If the landlord does not have an established office in the same county, the tenant has three extra days to pay rent before the landlord can charge a late fee.
There is no mention of late fees in Florida’s legislature, but there will be no way to legally enforce a late fee if it is not in the lease agreement. It’s recommended that landlords provide tenants with a three-day grace period to pay the overdue rent amount.
In the state of Georgia, Section 10-4-217, as long as the rental agreement includes details on late fees, landlords may charge one. The limitation on late fees sits at $20.00 “or 20 percent of the monthly rent for each month there is a late payment of rent, whichever is greater.
In the 2022 Hawaii Revised Statutes Title 28 Section 521-21f, the legislature limits a late fee to 8% of the rent due, and it will only be enforced if it is the lease agreement. Additionally, the landlord has to wait five (5) days before proceeding with the eviction process.
The state of Idaho has no legislation that mentions late fees. If a landlord wishes to enforce a late fee, it needs to be clearly mentioned in the lease agreement. Also, the landlord should keep the fee relevant to problems caused by nonpayment.
In the Illinois Compiled Statutes (770 ILCS Section 95/7.10), there is a law specifically addressing late fees. The law doesn’t allow for late fees to be charged before the rent is five (5) days late. The amount, timeframe, and all related conditions must be included in the rent agreement. The amount a landlord can charge is restricted to $20 or 20% of the rent.
Additionally, in paragraph D, the law states, “Any reasonable expense incurred as a result of rent collection or lien enforcement by an owner may be charged to the occupant in addition to the late fees permitted by this Section. If any such expenses are charged, they shall be identified on an itemized list that is available to the occupant.”
But be sure to check with your municipalities laws. For example, in Chicago, late fees have additional legislatures attached. If rent is under $500, the fee can be no higher than $10.00, and for any amount of rent over $500, the late fee can be an additional 5%. A flat fee that is specified in the lease agreement is recommended.
Indiana doesn’t have any laws relating to late fees. It’s recommended that landlords relate the fee to expenses a late rent payment accrues. Also, if the late fee is not in the lease agreement, it will be difficult to enforce or validate in front of a judge.
The state of Iowa discusses late fees in the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Law Section 529A.9 Paragraph 4. It states that when rent is $700 or less per month, late fees cannot exceed $12 per day or a total amount of $60 per month. When rent is over $700 per month, late fees cannot exceed $20 per day or a total amount of $100 per month. Also, it should be covered in the lease agreement.
In Section 58-816a, the legislature allows landlords to charge a “reasonable late fee” that cannot “exceed $20 per month or 20% of the monthly rental amount, whichever is greater, for each late rental payment.” If the fee is higher, the landlord is responsible for proving that a higher rate is also reasonable.
There is a five (5) day grace period required in Kentucky (Section 359.215) along with a stipulation that late fees may only be charged if both “the amount of the fee and the conditions for imposing the fee are stated in the rental agreement or in an addendum to that agreement.” A limit is placed on the late fee of $20 or 20% of the rent due, but the landlord is free to charge whichever rate is larger.
Louisiana’s legislature allows for late fees as long as it was included in the lease agreement, it is charged 10 days after the due date, and it does not exceed 5% of the rent or $25, whichever is greater.
In Maine, late fees cannot exceed 4% of the amount due for 30 days. Notification of late fees must be given to tenants in writing at the beginning of the tenancy. Late fees cannot be imposed until rent is 15 days late.
A lease agreement in Maryland must disclose the amount, conditions, and timing of the late fee. The fee cannot be interest, a finance charge, liquidated damages, or a penalty. A late fee in Maryland cannot exceed $5 or up to 10% of the monthly rate, whichever is higher, and no more than three (3) late fees may be charged in a single amount. The grace period is fifteen (15) days. Also, when the late fee is listed in the lease agreement, the text mentioning the amount has to be bolded.
Massachusetts has a history of protecting the little guy, so it’s not surprising that their late fee laws are similar. First, the grace period is one of the longest in the country at 30 days, but as soon as that time comes, the eviction process can begin. Also, there is a stipulation that makes using a late fee reversal, offering to take away the late fee, as an incentive to pay rent.
The state of Michigan does have legislation covering the tenant-landlord relationship, but there is little mention of late fees. One point the rules make is that the landlord cannot use a late fee as a penalty. And while there are no limits on late fees, it’s recommended that you keep it in line with actual problems that non-payment causes.
Minnesota law states that the lease or rental agreement must have specified language regarding late fees. Late fees cannot exceed 8% of the rent. The “due date” for late fees does not include a date earlier than the usual rent due date.
There isn’t anything in the Mississippi legislation that covers late fee laws, which means that is completely legal for landlords to charge tenants these fees. It’s recommended that the landlord always put it in the lease and keeps the fees relative to expenses a late rent payment causes so that if it ever faced a judge, they wouldn’t deem it unreasonable.
In Missouri Statute 415.417, a landlord is given the right to impose a late fee as long as it is not used to pay interest on a debt. The statute places a limit on late fees of $20 or 20% of the monthly rental amount. The late fee also needs to be written in the lease agreement, considered “reasonable,” and if higher, “the burden of proof that a higher late fee is reasonable.”
As with most states without legislative direction on the topic of late fees, there is no limit on what the fee can be. It needs to be in the lease agreement so that it can be legally enforced. The only stipulation is that the landlord must give a notice of three days of nonpayment before moving toward the eviction process.
The three conditions that the state of Nebraska imposes on late fees. First, in a monthly rental agreement, a limit of $5 and a grace period of five (5) business days are imposed. Second, in agreements more frequent, the late fee is limited to three dollars ($3) and cannot be charged within three (3) business days. Third, a late fee may only be charged and collected once.
A Nevada court will presume that there is no late fee penalty unless it is included in the written lease or rental agreement, and it can not be imposed earlier than three (3) days after rent is due. The law also states that the “late fee must be reasonable and cannot exceed 5% of the periodic rent” and “the maximum amount of the late fee must not be increased based upon a late fee that was previously imposed.”
In New Hampshire, the landlord may charge a late fee as long as it is “reasonable”, stated along with all related conditions in the lease agreement, and is $20 or 20% of the rent, whichever figure is “greater, is deemed reasonable and does not constitute a penalty.”
New Jersey's law states that the landlord must wait five (5) days before charging a late fee when the tenant(s) is (are) a senior citizen receiving Social Security Old Age Pensions, Railroad Retirement Pensions, or other government pensions in lieu of Social Security Old Age Pensions; or when the tenants are recipients of Social Security Disability Benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or benefits under Work First New Jersey.
In New Mexico, the lease or rental agreement must include specified language regarding late fees. Late fees may not exceed 10% of the rent. The landlord must notify the tenant of the landlord’s intent to impose a late fee no later than the last day of the next rental period immediately following the period in which the default occurred.
The state of New York has some of the most strict late fee laws in the country. In the case of non-payment, the landlord has to wait five (5) days before imposing a late fee. It may not exceed $50 or 5% of the rent, whichever amount is the least. A notice of late fee needs to be sent to the tenant via certified mail.
Manufactured home park owners can only charge tenants a late fee if it is 1) in the lease agreement or rules and 2) it is charged after a 10-day grace period.
North Carolina law states that the landlord must wait at least five (5) days after the rent due date before imposing a late fee. If rent is due monthly, late fees cannot be higher than $15 or 5% of the rent, whichever is greater. If rent is due weekly, late fees cannot be higher than $4.00 or 5% of the rent, whichever is greater. A late fee may be imposed only once for each late rental payment. A late fee for a specific late rental payment may not be deducted from a subsequent rental payment to cause the subsequent payment to be in default.
In the North Dakota legislature, there is nothing that requires notice, a grace period, or a specific amount when imposed on the tenant. The only thing the attorney general website urges is the inclusion of the late fee in the lease agreement.
In Section 5322.05, the Ohio legislature states that a “reasonable late fee” may be charged against tenants after three (3) days in the event of nonpayment. The state defines “reasonable” as $20 of 20% of the rent due, whichever figure is bigger. If the fee is higher, the landlord will need to prove that that fee is reasonable. Also, the conditions relevant to late fees need to be included in the lease agreement.
Oklahoma legislature (Title 41 Section 131) does very little to cover or discuss late fees. It allows landlords to charge late fees in the event of nonpayment. The law states that “A landlord may terminate a rental agreement for failure to pay rent when due if the tenant fails to pay the rent within five (5) days after written notice of landlord's demand for payment.” The landlord can deliver notice before or after recovery action is taken, and it should be noted that a “demand for past due rent is deemed a demand for possession of the premises, and no further notice to quit possession need be given by the landlord to the tenant for any purpose.”
Oregon's law (ORS 90.260) states that the lease or rental agreement must include quite specific language regarding late fees. The landlord must wait at least four (4) days after the rent due date before charging a late fee. A flat late fee must be reasonable. A daily late fee may not be more than 6% of a reasonable flat fee and cannot add up to more than 5% of the monthly rent. The late fee may change if the tenant is given 30 days’ notice by the landlord.
Even though there are no laws forbidding or limiting late fees in Pennsylvania, they do make it clear that the fee needs to be reasonable. Meaning, if the late fee is deemed unfair, it will be a violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act. To avoid that, it’s recommended that the late fees stay relevant to the actual costs of issues caused by nonpayment, and it should be clearly stated, with details, in the lease agreement.
The state of Rhode Island has no legislation that covers late fees, limits on them, or when they may be charged. But for a late fee to be legally enforceable, it has to be clearly mentioned in the lease.
There are no laws mentioning late fees in South Carolina’s legislation, but there is a mention of a five (5) day grace period before the landlord may start the eviction process. It is recommended to include a late fee in the lease agreement so that it is legally enforceable.
In South Dakota, any late fee that is deemed unreasonable could potentially be thrown away by a judge, so it’s recommended that landlords keep the fee reasonable to costs caused by nonpayment. Also, it needs to be included in the lease agreement to be legally enforceable.
The state of Tennessee has more legal stipulations on late fees than most other states. The legislature requires a grace period of five (5) days before a late fee can be imposed, and the day that rent is due (which is the first of the month unless otherwise noted) is to be considered the first day. If the fifth day lands on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the late fee cannot be charged until the next business day. The notice/grace period can be waived if the lessee agrees to it in the lease agreement. The late fee cannot exceed 10% of the rent due. And there is an additional limit on situations involving public or income-based housing in counties with a population between 250,000 and 300,000.
In Texas, the lease or rental agreement must disclose specific language regarding late fees. The landlord must wait at least two (2) days after the rent due date to charge a late fee. Late fees must be reasonable. For properties with four or fewer units, late fees cannot be more than 12% of the rent; for properties with more than four units, late fees cannot be more than 10% of the rent; OR late fees must be related to the late payment of rent/what it costs the landlord for rent to be late (expenses, costs, and overhead associated with collection of late payment).
The landlord must charge an initial fee and a daily fee for each day the rent is late; the combined fees are considered a single late fee. Tenants can ask landlords to provide a statement of whether they owe late fees.
The only mention of a late fee in Utah’s state legislature is in Section 57-22-4-5. It states that the landlord cannot impose a fee that “exceeds the greater of (i) 10% of the rent agreed to in the rental agreement; or (ii) $75,” and it has to be clearly stated in the lease agreement. If the rental agreement is on a month-to-month basis, then the landlord has the right to charge “a fee, fine, assessment, interest, or other cost” that is not inside of the lease agreement.
Vermont’s legislature has no mention of late fees other than prohibiting the usage of late fees as a penalty. Also, late fees will only be legally enforceable if they are included in the lease agreement and are related to costs in a way that is deemed reasonable.
Virginia law states that when the landlord has not offered a written lease, a tenancy of twelve months is created by law. Late fees must be included in the lease, an amount that is less than 10% of the balance, and may be imposed when rent is five (5) or more days late.
Within the Washington State Legislature, in section 19.150.150, the law clearly states that conditions surrounding a late fee have to clearly be stated. There is a limit on late fees of $20 or 20% of the rent amount, whichever figure is greater. Also, it must not be a penalty.
There is no law in the West Virginia Code that discusses late fees in residential rental agreements. It’s recommended that landlords keep the fees related to actual costs and damages to be upheld in court. Also, it needs to be in the lease agreement.
Wisconsin code 134.09-8 states that “No landlord may charge a late rent fee or late rent penalty to a tenant, except as specifically provided under the rental agreement.” Also, it must not be charged as a penalty or as a way to cover past late fees.
The state of Wyoming has no laws covering late fees, but they still need to be included in the lease agreement to be legally enforced.
In the District of Columbia, the lease or rental agreement must have specified language regarding late fees. Late fees cannot be more than 5% of the rent and cannot be imposed until after the rent is at least five (5) days late. The tenant cannot be evicted for failure to pay late fees. The landlord can deduct unpaid fees from the security deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Maximum Late Fee
|Maine||15||4% of the monthly rent|
|New Jersey||5 days for senior citizens, no grace period for others||No Limit|
|Arizona||5||No Limit except for mobile homes, which are limited to $5 per day|
|Delaware||5||5% of monthly rent|
|District of Columbia||5||5% of monthly rent|
|New York||5||5% of the monthly rent or $50, whichever is less (rent-controlled property may have different rules)|
|Tennessee||5||10% of the monthly rent or $30, whichever is greater|
|Wisconsin||5||$20 or 20% of the monthly rent, whichever is greater|
|Oregon||4||5% of the monthly rent|
|Texas||1||$12 of the monthly rent for properties with less than 4 rental units and $10 of the monthly rent for structures with 4 or more rental units|
|Arkansas||None specified||No Limit|
|California||None specified||No Limit|
|Colorado||None specified||No Limit|
|Florida||None specified||No Limit|
|Georgia||None specified||No Limit|
|Hawaii||None specified||8% of the monthly rent|
|Idaho||None specified||No Limit|
|Illinois||None specified||$20 or 20% of the monthly rent, whichever is greater|
|Indiana||None specified||No Limit|
|Iowa||None specified||$12 per day or $60 per month if the rent is less than $700. If the rent is over $700, the limit is $20 per day or $100 per month|
|Kansas||None specified||No Limit|
|Kentucky||None specified||No Limit|
|Louisiana||None specified||No Limit|
|Maryland||None specified||5% of the monthly rent|
|Michigan||None specified||No Limit|
|Minnesota||None specified||8% of the monthly rent|
|Mississippi||None specified||No Limit|
|Missouri||None specified||No Limit|
|Montana||None specified||No Limit|
|Nebraska||None specified||No Limit|
|Nevada||None specified||5% of the monthly rent|
|New Hampshire||None specified||Limited to the amount of rent|
|New Mexico||None specified||10% of the monthly rent|
|North Carolina||None specified||5% or $4 for week-to-week leases, whichever is greater, or 5% or $15 for monthly leases, whichever is greater|
|North Dakota||None specified||No Limit|
|Ohio||None specified||No Limit|
|Oklahoma||None specified||No Limit|
|Pennsylvania||None specified||No Limit|
|Rhode Island||None specified||No Limit|
|South Carolina||None specified||No Limit|
|South Dakota||None specified||No Limit|
|Utah||None specified||No Limit|
|Vermont||None specified||Limited to the costs incurred to the landlord by the rent being late|
|Washington||None specified||No Limit|
|West Virginia||None specified||No Limit|
|Wyoming||None specified||No Limit|