Another tenant and I were discussing late fees...she is saying you lose all your renter's rights if you are late on rent because you breached a contract. I thought you were allowed all these rights until yolu were legally evicted. Also, if you lose your concession when rent is late wouldn't this have to be in the lease? I was in the hospital with a head injury and was one day late on rent...was charged a $200 late fee even though I had extenuating circumstances and have never been late in three years.
You don't lose your rights if you are late on rent. You still have the contract and applicable statutory rights (many states have statutes regarding how security deposit must be accounted).
Your rights are based primarily on your agreement. If you agreed that you will be charged a $200 late fee for being one day late, that fee may be allowable. It does not matter if you had extenuating circumstances or if you have never been late unless your agreement provides those contingencies.
Now, I have to question the validity of a $200 late fee for being one day late. This fee may be considered liquidated damages and may not be valid unless your monthly lease amount is considerable. That said, this depends on state law, your lease terms, and other circumstances. If you have been charged that fee you should contact the landlord and explain the circumstances and see if they will waive this fee this time. There are no guarantees and they may say no and then it will be up to you if you want to challenge this by a lawsuit.
This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
I agree with Attorney Murillo. You should definitely follow up with the landlord on this. $200 seems like an excessive penalty, and since you have been a good tenant, the landlord should agree to waive the penalty this time. I would say this even if you did not have a good excuse, which clearly you do.
Your rights and obligations are spelled out in your contract. $200 is not the kind of thing you would normally go to an attorney about, and I do not think this is an exception. If your landlord is not willing to waive the penalty, though, I would seriously consider finding another place to live. Your landlord, in that situation, would clearly be more interested in the money that in the tenant.
Best of luck to you!
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.
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