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?

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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