Is it legal for a landlord to contact a tenant multiple times and threaten a late fee for payment on a water bill due the following week?

UPDATED: May 31, 2012

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Is it legal for a landlord to contact a tenant multiple times and threaten a late fee for payment on a water bill due the following week?

My mother lives in a mobile park. The landowner has contacted her tim4es in the last 7 days because she has not submitted payment for her $15 water bill. The due date posted on the water bill is fo tomorrow. The landlord is now saying that she will impose a $47 “late fee” if payment is not submitted by 5:00 pm today. My mother is on disability and gets paid tonight. She had been planning to pay her bill tomorrow, when it is due. The park manager even went so far as to contact me (an adult living outside of her home) regarding payment, despite it not being late.

Asked on May 31, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A landlord may contact a tenant multiple times to inquire about payment--either past due or upcoming.

The landlord may not impose a late fee, however, unless the lease actually provides for one; the landlord needs authority in/from the lease (which is a contract between landlord and tenant) to charge late fees, and may not impose one if it's not in the lease.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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