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Re: bouncing rent checks

Posted by TenantNet on August 31, 1998 at 23:54:45:

In Reply to: Re: bouncing rent checks posted by Tami on August 31, 1998 at 22:01:42:

: I'm concerned about "Santa's" advice about late fees here. My landlord attached a rider to my lease that also allows for a late fee after the 10th of the month. I don't believe this is illegal. In fact, some people say that ten days is pretty generous from a landlord's point of view. (I don't have a landlord's point of view, obviously, but I'm trying to put this in perspective.) I'm just worried that the advice might be incorrect. I checked one of the Community Training Resource Center fact sheets (the one that pertains to rent charges), and it says this is a fuzzy area. Santa, whoever you are, I'm worried that you might be giving advice that isn't accurate and that people might be taking undue risks by following it. If I'm wrong about this issue, can you please provide statutory or other citations for where you got the information? I don't think you are a representative of TenantNet, or else I think you'd provide a more legitimate-sounding identification, but it would be helpful if readers of this site had a little info about the basis for your expertise. Also, I wish you would not type in all caps (which is comparable to screaming, on the net) or use those tons of exclamation points. It really distracts from the information. Thank you very much.

We let 'Santa' go on for a while as we hope to encourage discussion
among tenants. For so long it's just been a Q&A forum, and I'm tired of
feeling the expectation of responding to every inquiry. I'd rather have
real tenants suggest solutions based on their experiences, but Santa sounds
more opinion than thought. You are right, he's not part of TenantNet.
As for late fees, the law is a fluid thing. They are not illegal, but
(from what I know) an owner cannot collect them in the frame of housing
court, which only covers 'rent'. An owner would need to file in
Civil Court to collect fees. I might be wrong here, but the various fact
sheets we have online could be instructive, as well as a scan in
Housing Court Decisions. According to one source (Residential
Landlord-Tenant Law in NY by Andrew Scherer), late fees must not be
punitive, reasonable and bear a relationship to the rent sought. For
example, a $50 late fee on a rent of $405 was deemed unconscionable
and void (Spring Valley Gardens Assoc v. Earle, 1112 Misc 2d 786, 447
NYS2d 629, Rockland Co. Ct 1982). No llate fee can be charged if not
provided for in the lease or by statute. If such charges are to be
treated "as rent" -- you will see that language in the lease -- then
the owner might be able to seek them in the context of a Housing
Court summary proceeding, but can't be the sole basis of the proceeding.
And in some cases, rent regulation will require agency approval.

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