How best to fight late payment charge regarding a drop box?

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How best to fight late payment charge regarding a drop box?

Rent is due on 1st of the month; it’s considered late after 5th. I dropped the rent check in the drop box on the 5th before midnight but the landlord states they didn’t receive check until 6th. I have a copy of front and back of the check showing the date as the 5th and it was accepted and deposited by landlord. The landlord states that unless I pay a late fee my next rent check will not be accepted and they will evict me. How can I fight this as I don’t want to pay a late fee nor get evicted.

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the dates on the check do not prove when it was delivered--a check can have any date written on it. If you can show it was desposited on the 5th (e.g. it was "cancelled" on the 5th), that, of course, would be compelling evidence that you were not late with it; but without evidence of a deposit on the 5th, you might have no way of proving you paid by or before the 5th.

However, the landlord may *not* refuse your next rent check, if it is paid on time. If the late fee is not called "additional rent" or "rent" in the lease, the landlord can try to sue you for the money, but should not be able to evict you for not having paid it. If it is called "rent" or "additional rent," however, the landlord may be able to evict you for its nonpayment, and that event, it would almost certainly be easier and cheaper to pay than to fight. Indeed, you may wish to consider paying the late fee in any event, to avoid conflict with your landlord, and just make sure that in the future, you either pay early and/or make sure to pay in person at the office, so you can get a rent receipt.


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