Washington DC

Late Fee Fairness Amendment Act Of 2016 – Frequently Asked Questions

Authored By: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia - NW Office

FAQ

1. What is the Late Fee Fairness Amendment Act of 2016?

The Late Fee Fairness Amendment Act regulates the late fees that landlords may charge tenants. The Act says:

  • A landlord can only charge a tenant up to 5% of the rent as a late fee.
  • If a tenant receives a rent subsidy, the late fee has to be calculated based on the tenant share of the rent.
  • A landlord cannot charge a late fee until the rent is at least 5 days late.
  • A landlord has to include the maximum late fee it charges in its lease with a tenant.
  • A landlord can only charge one late fee for each late payment.
  • A landlord cannot take a late fee out of a later rent payment that a tenant makes.
  • A landlord cannot evict a tenant based on not paying a late fee.
  • A landlord can send a bill to a tenant for late fees and require payment within 30 days.
  • A landlord can take any unpaid late fees out of a tenant’s security deposit.
  • A landlord cannot charge interest late fees.

A landlord that violates the law may have to pay a fine of between $100 and $5,000 for each violation. 

2. How is my late fee calculated?

The most your landlord can charge as a late fee is 5% of your monthly rent.  For example, if your monthly rent is $1,000, the landlord can charge you up to $50 as a late fee.

If you receive a rent subsidy, you may not pay all of your rent yourself.  The most your landlord can charge you as a late fee is 5% of your tenant share of the rent.  So if you pay $100 per month, and your subsidy pays $900 per month, the landlord can charge you up to $5 as a late fee (5% of $100).

3. I paid my rent late last month and did not pay the late fee yet. What happens when I pay rent this moth?

The landlord cannot take the old late fee out of your new rent payment. As long as you pay this month’s rent on time, the landlord also cannot charge you another late fee.

4. I owe late fees to my landlord, but I have paid all of my rent. Can I be evicted for not paying late fees?

No. Under the law, a landlord may not evict you for not paying late fees. 

5. My lease says my rent is due on the 1st day of the month. Can my landlord charge me a late fee if I pay on the 2nd?

No. The new law says that all tenants have until the 5th day of the month to pay their rent, no matter what their lease says. This is called a 5-day “grace period.”

6. My lease allows me to pay up to the 7th of the month without being late (a seven-day “grace period”). Can my landlord charge me a late fee if I pay on day six?

No. The new law requires at least a 5-day grace period. But if your lease gives you a longer grace period before your landlord charges a late fee, you still get that longer period of time.

7. I have a subsidy that helps pay my rent, and the subsidy agency is late paying the rent. Can my landlord charge me a late fee?

No. As long as you paid your share of the rent on time, your landlord cannot charge you a late fee, even if the agency was late paying its share.