Are late fees legal in Washington D.C.?
Yes, late fees are legal in Washington D.C. as long as they are written into the lease. A landlord must specify in writing the maximum amount the tenant will be charged.
How much can a landlord charge for late fees in Washington D.C.?
According to the Rental Housing Late Fee Fairness Amendment Act of 2016, a landlord can charge a maximum flat fee of 5% for each late payment.
For example, if rent is $2000 and a tenant pays late, a landlord would be able to charge a maximum of $100 (5%) for that month, provided that they respect the grace period.
Is there a required grace period in Washington D.C.?
Yes, Washington D.C. requires a minimum 5 day grace period. This means a tenant has five full days after the due date before a late fee applies. So if rent is due on the 1st, the landlord could not charge a late fee until the 7th.
Can I evict a tenant for not paying late fees?
No, it is illegal to evict a tenant for not paying late fees in Washington D.C. Landlords must send an invoice to the tenant after the grace period expires, giving them 30 days to pay the late fee.
What happens if the tenant does not pay late fees?
Washington D.C. landlords cannot charge interest on unpaid late fees, nor can they deduct unpaid late fees from the next rent payment. If a tenant does not pay late fees requested in the invoice, a landlord may deduct the amount of unpaid fees from the security deposit at the end of tenancy.
My tenant’s rent is subsidized through a government program. How does this affect late fees?
If a tenant’s rent is subsidized by a government program, the tenant only pays a late fee based on their portion of the rent. For example, if the total rent is $2000, but half of that amount is subsidized by the government, the tenant would only pay a late fee based on their portion of the rent, or $1000. So if the late fee was 5%, they would pay $50.
Washington D.C. landlords need to be aware of the 5% late fee cap and the required 5 day grace period. Writing late fee language into the lease can help prevent misunderstanding.