A late rent notice is a letter you send to a tenant to notify them that their rent is past due. This letter informs the tenant what they owe (including late fees), how to pay and what happens if the tenant fails to pay.
A late rent notice is not the same as a Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent which is a formal notice a landlord uses to begin the eviction process.
When Not to Send a Late Rent Notice
In certain situations, you may not want to send a late rent notice. Here are a couple of reasons why you may not want to immediately send a late rent notice:
- A tenant has unfulfilled lease obligations (i.e., incomplete repairs).
- Responsible tenant’s first time late.
- You are aware of a unique or extraordinary circumstances of the tenant.
A quick call to your tenant may solve the issue especially if this is the first late payment or you are aware of a unique situation that has temporarily delayed their payment (i.e., tenant is out of town because of the death of a loved one).
If you are preparing to send a late rent notice, here is everything you need to know.
When to Send a Late Rent Notice
A late rent notice is an easy way to remind a tenant of their obligations without the immediate threat of eviction. A notice can help maintain good relationships and provide the landlord with documented communication.
Sending a late rent notice before beginning an eviction process can provide significant benefits to the landlord. These benefits include:
- Saved Time – Learning the eviction process and taking the necessary action to complete an eviction can be a time-consuming process. In addition, you will have to spend time trying to find a new tenant to fill their vacancy.
- Saved Money – The eviction process can be costly. Not only are you losing rent money, but now you have to spend money paying an attorney and court fees.
- Less Stress – Why deal with the stress of an eviction process when a simple letter might resolve the situation?
State Laws on Late Rent
Some states have a grace period allowing tenants to pay late without being evicted. Late fees cannot be collected during a grace period. Other states have limits on the type of late fee you can charge. See the chart below for your state’s grace period and late fee requirements.
|State||Grace Period||Late Fees|
|Alaska||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Arizona||None||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Arkansas||5 days||No limit, must be in the lease|
|California||None||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Colorado||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Connecticut||9 days||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Delaware||None||5% of rent|
|Florida||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Georgia||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Hawaii||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Idaho||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Indiana||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Iowa||None||Monthly Rent < $700 – $12 per day (max. $60 per month)
Monthly Rent > $700 – $20 per day (max. $100 per month)
|Kentucky||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Louisiana||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Maine||15 days||4% of past due amount|
|Maryland||None||5% of past due amount|
|Massachusetts||30 days for late fees, None for evictions||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Michigan||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Minnesota||None||8% of rent amount|
|Mississippi||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Nebraska||None>||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Nevada||None||5% of rent amount|
|New Hampshire||None||No restrictions|
|New Jersey||5 days (protected classes only)||No restrictions|
|New Mexico||None||10% of rent amount|
|New York||5 days||$50 or 5% of the rent amount, whichever is less|
|North Carolina||5 days||$15 or 5% of the rent, whichever is greater|
|North Dakota||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Ohio||None||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Oklahoma||5 days (14 days for public housing)||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Oregon||4 Days||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Rhode Island||15 days||No restrictions|
|South Carolina||None||No restrictions|
|South Dakota||None||No restrictions|
|Tennessee||5 days||10% of past due amount|
|Texas||1 day||12% of rent amount|
|Virginia||5 days||10% of past due amount|
|Washington||None||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Washington D.C||5 days||5% of rent|
|West Virginia||None||Reasonable, and in the lease|
|Wisconsin||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
|Wyoming||None||No limit, must be in the lease|
You should send a late rent notice as soon as a tenant is late on their rent and their grace period (if applicable in your state) has expired, this provides the following benefits:
- Gives your tenant the greatest opportunity to get current on their rent.
- Provides the landlord a record of timely communication in case further action, such as eviction, is required.
How to Write a Late Rent Notice
Your late rent notice should include the below information:
- Date the letter is being sent
- Landlord’s name and contact information
- Tenant’s name and contact information
- Rental property address, including the unit number
- Monthly rent amount
- Rent payment due date
- Specific month(s) of unpaid rent
- Amount of rent past due
- Any partial payments made by the tenant
- Late fee, if applicable
- Total amount due
- Acceptable forms of payment
- Acceptable methods of delivering payment
- Deadline for tenant’s response
- Consequences of nonpayment
- Landlord’s signature
How to Send a Late Rent Notice
Many lease agreements include information on how to send communication (i.e., late rent notices) between the landlord and tenant.
Ideally, you want to send a notice in a way that requires signature confirmation to document its receipt. This can be accomplished by certified mail. Even better, send it by restricted certified mail which requires the tenant to be the only person that can sign for the notice.
You should keep a copy of this notice filed with a notation of what means were used to deliver the notice and any other relevant information.
What if a Tenant Still Does Not Pay?
It is recommended that you should not accept partial payments. If a late rent notice is given to your tenant and rent is unpaid, you may be forced to take more formal action.
Notice to Pay or Quit
If rent remains unpaid, a landlord can provide the tenant with a Notice to Pay or Quit. This is a formal letter informing the tenant they must pay their rent or vacate the premises.
If a tenant does not abide by the terms of the Notice to Pay or Quit it’s time to begin the eviction process. This can end up being a long and difficult process. If it looks like this is your only option, please see our detailed guide to help you navigate the Eviction Process.